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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Masterpieces of African Art : Yombe Ntadi Maternity Sculpture
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Yombe Ntadi Maternity Sculpture - PF.5761
Origin: Democratic Republic of Congo
Circa: 16th th Century AD to 18th th Century AD
Dimensions: 12.5" (31.8cm) high x 5.75" (14.6cm) wide
Collection: African
Style: Yombe
Medium: Stone


Location: UAE
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Description
Graves are of special importance to the tribes of the Congo and other central African peoples, not just as resting places for the dead but also as points of contact with the deceased. Although generally associated with the Mboma tribe, peoples on either side of the Congo River estuary carve figures in the soft, local soapstone, using techniques modeled from ancient wood- sculpting traditions. These figures were called ntadi, a word that probably comes from tadi, "stone," but may also refer to tala, "to look at," implying that the figures are witnesses in this world for the deceased in the other. Found on graves in abandoned cemeteries, the ntadi statues are often discovered deeply imbedded in the earth. Questions about the age and tribal function of these remarkable sculptures remain plaguing. This striking ntadi represents a mother and her suckling child. The mother wears a distinctive headdress and is adorned by a necklace. She carries the child in an elaborate sling that warps around her upper torso. This mysterious sculpture is even more spectacular when one considers where it was placed. Might this statue have marked the grave of a deceased mother whose offspring memorialized her being? Perhaps this figure is a medium through which her descendants can continue to communicate with her. The theme of this work suggests that, although departed, this mother will continue nurturing her children from beyond. - (PF.5761)

 

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