Kongo peoples / Commemorative Male Figure / 19th-early 20th centuryKongo peoples
Commemorative Male Figure
19th-early 20th century

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Creator Nationality: African; Central African; Congolese; Kongo
Creator Name-CRT: Kongo peoples
Title: Commemorative Male Figure
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1800
Creation End Date: 1933
Creation Date: 19th-early 20th century
Object Type: Sculpture
Classification Term: Wood-Sculpture
Materials and Techniques: Wood, glass, metal, kaolin
Dimensions: H. 11 1/2 in. (29.2 cm)
AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1996.281
Credit Line: Purchase, Louis V. Bell Fund, Mildred Vander Poel Becker Bequest, Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat Gift, and Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1996
Rights: http://www.metmuseum.org/

In Kongo culture, figurative sculptures delineate and concretize the threshold between the worlds of the living and the dead. Displayed in shrines, a series of wood sculptures depicting a male figure flanked by a courtly entourage of wives, attendants, and retainers served to honor and commemorate the memory of important individuals. Such representations are part of a complex of art forms which afforded access to influential ancestors and which were also appreciated for their aesthetic excellence.

This idealized image of a leader once constituted the central protagonist of such a grouping. His meditative stance reflects simultaneously upon his destiny in the other world and his ongoing responsibilities to the living. The figure's chiefly identity is revealed through both the distinctive posture and the signs of rank that include a patterned hat, filed teeth, and decorative scarification patterns.

The Kongo artist responsible for this work captured a great deal of expression in the figure's contemplative facial features; the bold rendering of the torso and the positioning of the arms also convey a sense of dynamism in repose.

AMICA ID: MMA_.1996.281
AMICA Library Year: 2000
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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