The Teke inhabit the Stenley Pool area, in both Congo republics and also in Gabon. They are farmers and hunters and live in an area of plateaus covered by savannah, in villages grouped under a district chief. The Teke believed in a supreme being, the creator of the universe, called Nzami or Nziam, but their only cult was an ancestor cult. The power of this statue was in a magical substance (bonga) contained in the hole made in the body. Typical is the presence of fine parallel scarification marks on the cheeks. The butti representing ancestors are believed to bring success in hunting or trading and to protect against disease. The healing power of a butti is based on materials with supernatural qualities determined by the healer or diviner. The magic stuff may be earth and plant resin mixed with white chalk, small pieces of wood, hair, or other ingredients.
This statue just finished acting as a prop in a major motion picture about P.T. Barnum. The film "Greatest Showman on Earth" starring Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams and others is scheduled for release Dec 2017.