Africa Direct
Africa Direct

Tabwa Marionette Moveable Arms Female 20 Inch Congo African Art

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Title Tabwa Marionette Moveable Arms Female 20 Inch Congo African Art
Type of Object figurine
Country of Origin Democratic Republic of Congo
People Tabwa
Materials Wood, pigment
Approximate Age 20th century
Dimensions Height: 20 Inches
Width: 6 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.
Damage/Repair N/A

Additional Information: A charming Tabwa female with swinging arms. Her hands are cupped as though she is holding something in offering. Her torso and face have complex geometric scarification patterns. Her hair is long and delicately decorated. Wobbly, does not stand well.

Tabwa figural sculptures represent ancestors who were to assist in daily activities and during the hunt. Tabwa art is both a symbol and an esthetic 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.

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.