Songye Figure

Africa | Democratic Republic of the Congo

Songye Figure

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Nkishi power figure
Eki style, Songye

Carved wood and horn
Early 20th century
Height: 9 ½ in. (24 cm)

Ex collection Jeff Vander Straete, Brussels
Ex private collection, Brussels
Ex private collection, Paris

Published: Fine Arts Paris & La Biennale 2022
Songye figure 24 cm ex Vander Straete / Galerie Flak Price on request
The Songye reside in the southeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, near the Lomami River in Central Africa. The political organization of the Songye is centered around the personality of their chief, a holy, benevolent figure endowed with magical-religious power. Secret societies also ensure social, political and religious stability.
Fetishes, amulets (boanga or nganga) and power figures (nkishi) are omnipresent among the Songye. These ritual figures are said to bring wealth, fertility and success. They also serve as a form of protection against hostile forces, such as lightning or diseases. The antelope horn at the top of the head of the carved figure was the receptacle for the « medicine », transmitting strength and magiccal power to its owner.
This statuette with impressive volumes is in the same style (Eki) as two examples published in the reference book Songye: The Formidable Statuary of Central Africa by François Neyt, plates 40 & 41.
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