Democratic Republic of the Congo
Wood, pigment, cowrie shells, vegetable fiber, nails, metal, horn
Total Height: 91.0 cm, H: 70.0 cm, W: 17.0 cm, D: 20.0 cm (Total: 35.8 in, H: 27.6 in, W: 6.7 in, D: 7.9 in)
Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Lionel Bell. X80.875a,b
Songye figures were commissioned from a carver at the recommendation of a healer and became vehicles for mediation with the spirit world, as well as a source of protection. The figurative sculptures of the Songye are varied in size and style, but they always possess a signature square mouth and geometric rendering of the face and body. The large figure with the horn protruding from the top of its head would have belonged to an entire community and would have promoted communal well-being while deterring wrongdoers. Its surface accretions indicate that it was presented with sacrificial offerings.
Gallery text, Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives, 2006