X65.7493 Figure

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Songye peoples
Democratic Republic of the Congo
19th century
Wood, metal, reptile skin, hide
H: 16.50 cm, W: 4.40 cm, D: 7.00 cm (H: 6.5 in, W: 1.7 in, D: 2.8 in)
Gift of the Wellcome Trust. X65.7493


Though tiny in stature, this figure is carved with the utmost precision, and its maker’s hand is identifiable in the particular rendering of the fingers, feet, and ears. The figure has attachments in many materials, including reptile skin around its head and two metal plugs filling openings in its head and stomach where medicinal substances were placed for added efficacy. A figure like this was used to summon the spirits for assistance.

Gallery Text, Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives, 2006