Showcased by Didier Claes

Teke figure

Democratic Republic of Congo
H. 53cm

Materials : Wood, buttons, pigments

Provenance : Jean-Pierre Laprugne, Paris

The Teke kingdom was built with principalities on the western plateaus overlooking the Malébo Pool,just downstream from the two capitals Brazzaville and Kinshasa. This kingdom emerged at the same time as the Kongo. ln terms of worship, the people used “objects-power” that are similar to the Kongo minkisi. A few sculptural characteristics diverge, however: the frontal posture, the arms bent at right angles, facial scarification and a sagittal crested headdress. Their magic-religious statuary is called butti and honours ancestors through iconographie representation. As with the Kongo, a magical charge made up of sacrificial material was to occupy the abdominal cavity and give the butti figure its power. Unlike their neighbour’s nkisi, sometimes an earthy load of magical ingredients enveloped a figure’s entire body. They were then ail fitted in a fabric up to the knees. This kind of butti statue, whose body is an amalgam of relies, was honoured as part of a family cuit on the first day of the mon th or on the full moon.

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