Old kuyu ancestor figurine - Wood - Congo

Old kuyu ancestor figurine - Wood - Congo
Good condition, used with some signs of wear

Formerly, the Kuyu who live in the west of the Republic of Congo, would consider that they descended from the panther, whereas those from the east worshipped a sacred snake as their ancestor, a sort of viper named Djo. The cult honouring it depicted the myth of the origins, in which the sacred animal appeared as the creator of the universe. Worship dances of the kiephe-kiephe involved figures presenting the most often arms placed along the bust, ending with hands presenting webbed fingers. The drawings on the arms or on the bust remind the skin of a snake. Motifs in the shape of cowry shells - these shells symbolise protection - ornament a hairdo, a forehead and a dress.
The facial features confer to the piece a disturbing aspect, of half-human, half-animal creatures, which the Kuyu sculptures seem to embody.

The presence of a monkey perched on the head of the figure presented here reminds the kinship between men and this animal. For the Kuyu, the monkey is closely related to the ritual universe. During the initiation of boys, the officiant would rub their faces with the skin of this animal, in order to open their eyes to the invisible world.

Private collection.

Lot details
Old kuyu ancestor figurine
Region/ country
Good condition, used with some signs of wear
Sold with stand
45×13×45 cm
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