Female figure with child Kongo peoples-23.5/7.5 CM. While this figure holding a child to her breast has obvious associations with maternity and fertility, there are indications of use as a nkisi an explanation of nkisi. The faint incised marks on the back of the standing woman are all that remain of a missing container for special empowering materials. The hole atop the head also once held a medicine horn or streamers.
Feathers, strips of cloth or leather are used because they flutter when the nkisi is danced; this movement suggests the presence of the spirit. An important nkisi had many components and accessories. A male and female pair of carved figures would be a male nkisi and his wife. They exemplified the types of power controlled and unleashed by the nkisi.
The woman softens the retributive violence of the male and links these forces with fertility. Indeed a nkisi nkondi, an aggressive nkisi, could be used to treat a woman during childbirth and to end her seclusion afterward. The woman depicted in this diminutive carving is high in status. The child indicates that she is married, and she may have been the founding mother of a clan, for her head is covered by an mpu, a chief's hat.
The concentric circles of its design can be interpreted as a sign that she holds the clan together. Certainly her pose suggests confidence and control--feet and legs firmly planted, while shoulders, neck and head lean forward almost aggressively. The overall impression is meant to be one of beauty, because that is the nature of a woman, especially a woman with a child.
A sculptor who could convey this Kongo belief was respected and his work sought after. An original patina covers the item. African Vintage tribal Hand Carved Wooden decor Mask SONGOLA MASK-1887. Hand Carved Tribal Mask African Art Guro Mask, spectacular crest-1747. African Tribal Art Bwa or Bobo Bird Mask Lizards Burkina Faso Africa- 2146.AFRICAN Vintage Hand Carved Antique tribal African Masks of the MAAC GOLI- 2255. This item is in the category "Collectables\Ethnographic Collectables\African Collectables". The seller is "naga_4823" and is located in this country: US. This item can be shipped to all countries in Europe.