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Gallery Ezakwantu

African Art  - Art Africain - Tribal Art -  菲洲艺术 - Afrikanische Kunst


Central and Southern African Tribal Art

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African Colonial Figures - Colonial Sculpture

Objets Africains de L’époque Coloniale - Afrikanische Koloniale Objekte










Makonde Figure / Mozambique


By Nampyopyo Kulombanungu





Nampyopyo Kulombanungu was an active artist during the 1940's. His success producing figures for resale gave him sufficient wealth and autonomy to invent a new form of mapiko masquerade involving masks representing non-Makondes. Today he is revered by Makonde's throughout northern Mozambique as a pioneer in masquerade.


Source: “Bortolot, Alexander Ives. Revolutions: A Century of Makonde Masquerade in Mozambique. New York: Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, 2007”





Related figures may date back to pre-colonial Makonde who lived in dispersed settlements. Each settlement was composed of a small number of households headed by men belonging to a matrilineal kinship unit called a likola. A likola was said to derive from a common female ancestor, revered as a life-giver and protector, who was represented by figurines. Carved from wood, the effigies were embellished with traditional body decoration. The face and torso had geometrical designs and the upper lip exhibited the lip-plug worn by Makonde women of the time. People often carried such carvings with them on long journeys. For example, a man going out to hunt might have tied one to his back or hip to protect him from danger.



Related Makonde figures appear on page 134, 135 and 136 of Art Makonde. (below)





Our example, as well as those above, are not necessarily colon objects. One of the most important events in the life of a Makonde was initiation. During this intensive months-long ritual, boys and girls were provided with knowledge and skills essential to the Makonde way of life. Carvings sometimes functioned as teaching tools in this context.





A typical Makonde pot surmounts Nampyopyo Kulombanungu's old figure. An applied surface is old and encrusted.








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South East African Colon Figure


Circa 1920




Bust of a Powerful Man



This figure is made from extremely heavy wood, suggesting it is of Makonde in origin.  The eyes and teeth are inset with glass, shell, bone or ivory. The surface of this fine display object confirms great age. 





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African Colon Figure


Circa 1940





Bust of an African elderly Madala





This old African bust has a repaired ear. Missing hair to the beard and teeth add to the character of the object.





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Historic Luba Kabila Figure


Antique Museum Reproduction





This figure is a ceramic reproduction of a masterwork of Luba art made by or for the University of Pennsylvania Museum. This extremely rare reproduction likely dates to the 1950's.





This is the original object owned by the  University of Pennsylvania Museum. Mention to Urua is Luba





Female sitting or kneeling bowl figures are among the most impressive objects in Luba sculpture. Little is known of their function other than that such a figure is placed before the house of a woman after childbirth so that passers-by can put gifts of cowries into the bowl. In the past such a figure was referred to as a kabila (beggar woman), but according to some recent authors the correct name is mboko (calabash). Others feel that the latter designation is only a cover because the Luba consider uttering the real but secret name, kitompa kya muchi (divination bowl of wood), dangerous.  





There are several types of bowl-holding figures, whose functions differ throughout the Luba region and this may explain the confusion in terminology. A close link with divination and healing seems to be common to all the bowls. For such purposes at least some of the bowls serve as receptacles for the white kaolin used in rituals. The colour white is prescribed for all contact with spirits, and the diviner therefore paints a client with white earth; he also paints himself white after all important ritual acts.





When a chief takes office the first wife hands him a sacred calabash with white earth, the symbol of power. Other bowl holding figures are considered the abode of the spirit with whose help the diviner heals the patient. Often the patient simply takes the bowl in his hands, is painted white, and immediately feels himself cured. Some patients must then spend their lives as slaves of the spirit that is of the diviner.





Front and rear view of the Luba Kabila Figure





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Madagascar Figure





We feel this figure is from Madagascar. It is tall, powerful and inundated with fine adze marks over the entire surface.





The base of the strong, powerful sculpture is signed Samuel, with a reversed "S".





We know of one other figure by Samuel, where the surname of Ldeiy or Ldeiz appears.












Galerie Ezakwantu

Southern African Tribal Art - African Art 


Central and Southern African Tribal Art


Art Africain              頂级菲洲艺术品中心            Afrikanische Kunst




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