This sculpted figure depicts a naked woman, her hair done according to Mangbetu and Zande custom, braided hair gathered in a bun. Among the Mangbetu, this hairstyle enhanced the elongation of the skull, which compression of the head from an early age gradually deformed.
Orange-brown patina, abrasions and losses.
The ancients call beli the anthropomorphic figures embodying ancestors, stored out of sight, and comparable to those belonging to their secret society nebeli.
The Mangebetu kingdom in northern Congo produced architectural works that impressed European visitors in the 19th century. Their furniture, weapons, ornaments and statuary were imbued with a rare aesthetic quality. The ethnologist G.A. Schweinfurth in 1870 described its symmetry and refinement, while at the same time testifying to the ritual murders and human sacrifices practiced by "the people of the elongated heads".
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