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Ndengese (Dengese) Male Figure Congo African Art 26 Inch

Product #: 127070
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Title Ndengese (Dengese) Male Figure Congo African Art 26 Inch
Type of Object FemaleFigure
Country of Origin Democratic Republic of Congo
People Ndengese
Materials Wood
Approximate Age 20th Century
Dimensions Height: 10.50 Inches
Width: 2 Inches
Depth: 1.75 Inches
Overall Condition Good. Most of our pieces have spent decades on at least two continents, and have been treasured by several owners.   Small splits, scrapes and cracks are a normal part of their patina attesting to their age and extensive use.  We examine each piece carefully when we receive it and report any damage we find in our listings.  Please look carefully at the pictures which may also reveal condition and damage.

Additional Information:  

The Ndengese are neighbors of the Kuba, and their figures are known for their elaborate body scarification. Ndengese are said to be from the Mongo group and claim to have been in the area before the Kuba arrived in the center of Democratic Republic of Congo (former Zaire). The Ndengese are related to Nkutshu who are also mongo descent. They share cultural and artistic similarities with the Mongo and the Kuba. According to some traditions, the Ndengese are descended from the Etotoshi, oldest son of Woot, who is said to be the founder of the Kuba kingdom. Upon the investiture of a Kuba king, the Kuba must go to the Ndengese to get the sacred earth, even in this century. The Ndengese are patrilineal. The king Etoshi is aided by a council of elders and reigns over local chiefs His power is counterbalanced by that of the blacksmith, hunting, and secret societies. The Ndengese are farmers, hunters and fishermen. Religion is tied to the various status societies. The chief and notables in power play a major role in village rituals. There is little study of the Ndengese and their art. The Ndengese people make raffia cloth. Men woven raffia cloth, the women embroider it.All chiefs, Etotshi, have non-anthropomorphic scepters and carved head ivory flywhisk. The king also has an ivory staff stopped with a female figure. The Ndengese make wooden carved head as amulet besombo. They make cups, double cups, sometimes figural. The Ndengese also produce ivory side-blown trumpet. Masks found in Ndengese area are very rare and seem to have been adopted from the neighboring Kuba and related peoples such as the Ngeende, and Kete. The statues themselves are so rare. A distinguishing feature of the Ndengese statues is that they end just below the pubic area, without legs. Statues usually feature abundant and elaborate scarifications over the body. Each of them has ritual meanings, which constitute a kind of sign language. The rolls of the elongated neck and a simple flared coiffure are also one of the characteristics of the Ndengese figures. The tope–knot is the sign of Etotoshi and appears on all Ndengese prestige objects of the highest level. Statues like this are said to represent the king and were believed to embody his power. The hands posed around the navel recalls the common origin of those who depend to the chief. These figures are male and female and are placed on the tombs of Etotoshi members. There are also chief’s figures Isikimanji, which hold power and clothing of the old king after he dies. These figures are transferred to the new king in elaborate enthronement ceremonies.For more information, and fine examples, see


Cornet Joseph, “A PROPOS DES STATUES NDENGESE” in Art d’Afrique Noire, Spring 1976, no 17, pp 6-16, Arnouville: Arts d’Afrique

Cornet, Joseph, A SURVEY OF ZAIREAN ART-THE BRONSON COLLECTION.Felix, Marc L, 100 PEOPLES OF ZAIRE AND THEIR SCULPTURE: THE HANDBOOK. Brussels: Zaire (Congo) Basin Art History Research Center.