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Tabwa Female Figure Scarified Body Congo Africa 28 Inch

Regular Price: $490.00

Special Price: $290.00

Product #: 96982
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Title Tabwa Female Figure Scarified Body Congo Africa 28 Inch
Type of Object Carving, Figure, Statue, Sculpture
Country of Origin Democratic Republic of the Congo
People Tabwa
Materials Wood
Approximate Age Mid 20th century
Dimensions 28 inches H. x 8 inches W. x 8 inches D.
Overall Condition Poor. 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.
Damage/Repair Base damaged, large splits on face, very worn patina, chips cracks etc.


Additional Information: The figure does stand well besides the chipped base!


A  stunning  female figure with scarification patterns on face and torso. A hole at the top of the head probably once housed a horn. The used surface adds another dimension to the ritual importance  of this figure among the Tabwa. 


The Tabwa are a tiny tribe in the Upper River Region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire. Their carvings are ancestor figures, and they usually stand on a circular base with slightly bent knees and hands resting on their abdomen. Sometimes the hairstyle is a George Washington queue. On this figure the  like on this example the coiffure is a cap like with geometric motifs.


The Tabwa number more than 200, 000 . Tabwa art has only recently come to be identified as a separate style often confused with the sculpture of their neighbors or others who took Tabwa identity. Chiefs were not powerful and local lineage heads exercised much authority. It was the lineage heads who kept small figures representing honored ancestors known as Mipasi on small shrines that they controlled. Tabwa figural sculptures represent ancestors who were to assist in daily activities and during the hunt. Tabwa art is both a symbol and an aesthetic statement as the figures are often elaborately scarified in a fashion known among them until the middle of the twentieth century. The distinctive facial scarification consisting of a number of lines along the sides of the face and along the forehead and abdomen were the means whereby Tabwa identified themselves to localities and social status. They are also a high form of body art or ornamentation. Elaborate and attractive patterns and designs were worked into the skin according to the Tabwa concept of ‘kulemba’ that reflect aesthetics, social membership and the abstract idea of order upon the chaos of nature. It demonstrates that a person becomes a complete adult when they are properly inscribed with the appropriate scars. These patterns and designs are collectively known as ‘vindala’ and will represent one’s advancement through life and within Tabwa society. Distinctive hairstyles among Tabwa men reflect status or membership in a hunter’s cult known as ‘buyange’, that required great efforts to braid, tie and decorate.



Recommended Reading:


Maurer E.M. , A.F. Roberts, TABWA THE RISING OF NEW MOON, 1985


Cornet, Joseph, A SURVEY OF ZAIREAN ART.