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HOME : African & Tribal Art : African Collection/ HK : Kongo Wooden Pfemba Sculpture of a Mother and Child
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Kongo Wooden Pfemba Sculpture of a Mother and Child - PF.3889
Origin: Southwestern Congo
Circa: 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 12.5" (31.8cm) high x 5.75" (14.6cm) wide
Collection: African
Medium: Wood


Additional Information: Hong Kong

Location: Great Britain
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Description
The figure wears an incised cap generally associated with a chief. The half open mouth is very frequently rendered in this style, almost always revealing decoratively filed upper incisors.

Carefully carved this sculpture is quite realistic with detailed eyes, abundant scarifications on the body and a sensitively portrayed infant waiting to nurse. Of particular note is the champagne bottle held by the woman. Alcoholic beverages, imported in large quantities by Europeans in the nineteenth century, were sought after by tribal chiefs as symbols of prestige. The cross legged posture and open work arms are typical of Kongo artists who do not shrink from depicting difficult body positions.

With her headdress, the collar, the bracelets, the bottle of champagne and the infant (a possible heir), the sculptor suggests a high rank in society. Such statues were probably used by the ancestral cult. In the past, similar sculptures have been considered funeral figures.
- (PF.3889)

 

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