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Kongo artists carved numerous figures and objects characterized by naturalistic features. The figure of the mother and child is an icon of Kongo art. A maternity statue's effectiveness depended on the dignity of the figure and its youth (shown by the firmness of the breasts) and the jewelry, which augmented its beauty and status. It is not a simple genre theme, but a statement of the spiritual power supporting society, the need for fertility and the promise of future generations. The founding-mother of the clan occupies a position of great respect; the Kongo art is one of the richest in representations of mother-and-child-group. The maternity statues were used to ward off danger to mothers during delivery and to protect the health of the child.
This female figure is seated on a carved stool. She is adorned by the mpu cap - usually a symbol of prestige, worn by Kongo men. On a female this cap may signify her as a leader and as mother of the clan. Eyes made of glass are extremely expressive. Open mouth shows filed teeth - a form of body decoration among the Yombe people. The sculptor showed other decorations - raised body scarifications, a necklace.
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Provenance Raskin Private Collection