Chokwe peoples / Seated Chief / 19th CenturyChokwe peoples
Seated Chief
19th Century

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Creator Nationality: African; Central African; Congolese; Chokwe
Creator Name-CRT: Chokwe peoples
Title: Seated Chief
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1800
Creation End Date: 1899
Creation Date: 19th Century
Object Type: Sculpture
Materials and Techniques: Wood, fiber, glass, beads
Dimensions: H. 16 3/4 in. (42.5 cm)
AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1988.157
Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1988

The broad expanse of open savanna in northern Angola and the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo witnessed the rise of several wealthy and powerful states during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In these societies art objects were made to show the power of the chief, often through sculptures commemorating his authority. Chokwe chiefs, along with those of related peoples, also possess many other prestigious insignia-including chairs, ceremonial weapons, and staffs of office-bearing elaborately carved representations of rulers, ritual events, and village life. In all of these works, careful attention is paid to the accurate depiction of tattoo marks, coiffures, and headdresses, such as the high curving one worn by the Chokwe chief himself.

This figure proclaims the power and prestige of a Chokwe ruler, or 'mwanangana.' Sculptures representing chiefs as musicians reinforce Chokwe ideals of their leaders as keepers of precious cultural knowledge. In addition to this intellectual attribute, in this work the chief is depicted as a person of monumental presence, handsomeness, and luminous dark skin.

AMICA ID: MMA_.1988.157
AMICA Library Year: 2000
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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