An important pair of very beautifully carved Ancestral Figures of the Ndengese Tribe.
Pure Ndengese style is represented by a small number of ancestral figures differentiated from the Kuba style by extensively carved scarifications covering almost the entire body.
The tribe inhabit the northern part of the Kasai-Sankuru region and a large number of them live north of the Lukenye River. The Ndengese belong to the Mongo ethnic group.
The precise use of these Ancestral figures is unknown, but they were placed around the area of ritual, likely out of respect to elders who had passed. A large hole bored into the female going down - and another going upward into the spine area indicates its' use in ceremonial ritual.
The carving on this pair is exceptionally fine from the detailed expression on each face, the female being very serene and majestic while the male expression is much more intense. Beautiful geometric carving along with ringed necks, bracelets and collars are all very well done. The male figure carries a stylized carved vessel covered in animal fur atop his head. Secured with metal decorative tacks, there is also one at the center of his forehead. The fur leg drops down in front of his face. Eyes are coffee bean, closed. The male is infinitely more "decorated" and the carving is more deeply incised & dimensional than on the female figure.
The figures are large, measuring 29.5" high. The female is just under 9" wide at the shoulders - the male, about an inch less. Self standing, each figure has been carved from one tree trunk.
Blackened wood, polychromed, traces of paint, ochre, fur, metal tacks.
CONDITION: Excellent tribally used condition showing good wear. No damage or repair. From a private Estate Collection. Acquired, 1950 in tribally used condition by way of a trade. Exact age unknown.
A similar pair to these is in the Collection of the Instituit des Musees Nationaux du Zaire.