Songye Power Figure

Songye Power Figure

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Like the Kongo and other fellow Bantu cultures of central Africa, the Songye called upon supernatural forces which they believed could be contacted and manipulated in their favor through power sculptures, minkisi.  While the Kongo adhered to certain prescribed types according to the nature of the problem requiring the nkisi’s assistance, maintaining certain sculptural formulae, the Songye sculptor-diviner (nganga) was unrestrained by such prescriptions. Taking a certain “classic” sculptural vocabulary as a point of departure, Songye artists proceeded with every imaginable variation at their disposal. A client commissioning a figure, describing the circumstances that require the intervention of the nkisi, might relay a description that inspired the form of the sculpture – perhaps from a dream or a mystical encounter with the spirit itself. Both in the design and execution of the underlying wood sculpture, and in the addition of magical accoutrements (bishimba), Songye power figures are the wildly inspired products of this mystical influence and artistic freedom.  As a result, the Songye pantheon is full of powerful, menacing, exuberant, mischievous, unruly, and sometimes terrifying characters.

  • Region:  South RDC

  • Ethnic Group : Songye

  • Provenance: Colonial Collection

  • Height : 60 cm without horn :45 cm

  • Materials : Wood, Horn , glass , shell, raffia

  • Age estimate: Circa 1930

  • Condition: Good, traces of wear due to age and use.