Mortar with female figure
Democratic Republic of the Congo
H: 44 cm, W: 14.2 cm, D: 13 cm (H: 17.3 in, W: 5.5 in, D: 5.1 in)
Fowler Museum at UCLA. The Jerome L. Joss Collection. X87.1449
Certain stylistic characteristics of the female figure of this unique caryatid mortar suggest an attribution to the Kanyok. The Kanyok, who are related to the Luba, live between the Kalundwe and the Mbujimayi Rivers, and the Southern Kete. The cruciform scarification represented in relief on the forehead of the figure is borrowed from the Chokwe but is also used by other peoples of the Kasai: the Southern Kete and the Nsapo Nsapo, a group of Songye origin living among the central Lulua. Kanyok sculpture has not yet been studied in depth, but Frans M. Olbrechts (1945, 1959:78-79) has classified it as part of the great Luba stylistic complex. He has observed a resemblance in the motifs and style of the objects, an influence which could have come from the Chokwe, because of predilection for the representation of genre subjects. The most remarkable characteristics for Olbrechts were the lengthening of limbs, the oval face with lowered eyes and the hairstyle composed of two small spherical buns at the nape of the neck.
Source: Ross, Doran H. ed. (1994): “Visions of Africa”, Los Angeles, UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. page 134