Object Name: Figure (pindi)
Culture: Mbala peoples
Place of Origin: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Date/Era: 19th to early 20th century
Medium/Materials: Wood and camwood powder
Dimensions: H: 30.5 cm, W: 13.1 cm, D: 11.3 cm (H: 12.0 in, W: 5.2 in, D: 4.5 in)
Credit Line: Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of Jerome L. Joss.
Accession Number: X85.974
This figure was invoked by a lineage chief in the event of war, serious disputes, low-yielding harvests, epidemics, lack of game, or other natural disasters. Pindi figures were also used in the performance of rites of ascension to leadership. They were commonly created in pairs: the figure of a mother with child and the figure of a drummer. The mother in this case is portrayed as a diviner, who would typically have been called upon to settle disputes over succession. The “child” in her arm doubles as a slit drum, an instrument used to call the spirits to attention.
Source: Gallery text, Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives, 2006.
See also: Marla C. Berns, World Arts, Local Lives: The Collections of the Fowler Museum at UCLA. Fowler Museum, Los Angeles, 2014.