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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 Figures - African Sculpture

Statues Africaine - Figurines Africaines

Afrikanische Figuren - Afrikanische Statuen







Buyu / Boyo Figure


Congo - DRC / Circa - 1900





This handsome rare male figure originates from the Buyu, Boyo, or closely related neighbour. It is finely carved from a hard brown wood and is 34cm tall, or 13.4 inches. Figures were made as effigies of royal ancestors mizimu and kept in miniature funeral huts. Few examples are known in collections.




100 Peoples of Zaire and their Sculpture - The Handbook - Pg. 25 - Marc L. Felix


Buyu style is characterized by a wide faced spherical head with closed eyes within circled sockets and aquiline, or narrow beaked noses. Rarest of all are those from the Southern group lacking tattoos, such as this example.





This ancestral sculpture walks with a cane and smokes a pipe. Seen together, this depicts high stature and social rank. According to Marc L. Felix; The Buyu, along with other tribes, came from the South as part of Luba migrations (pushed northward by the Lunda), crossed the Lukuga and settled in the Luama basin. They represent the northernmost element of the Luba group. Some then continued northward to Maniema, and later, led by Kabumba Mogabo and Kayumba Kabembe, (who allied himself with Kunda), descended when Kongolo established the first Luba empire.





An oval shape that may represent a particular coiffure fashion of the day, appears on the back of the head.





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Sangu or Makonde Ritual Figures


19th Century - Malawi - Mozambique - Tanzania





This pair of rare figures were obtained from the collectors who published The Mlungu in Africa - art from the colonial period, 1840- 1940. They did not appear in the book, as they are ritual objects made by Africans for Africans.


The image to the above right appears in The Art of Africa - MASKS AND FIGURES from Eastern and Southern Africa, by Holy and is the property of  of the Horniman Museum. It is identified as East African Bemba. We feel it is carved in a like manner too the two figures, but with Tabwa influence. The Bemba live to the west of the Makonde. 






Collected 1886 - Reichard


The two pipes above (collected by 'Reichard' amongst the Sangu in 1886), suggest the figures are Sangu, who lived North of Lake Malawi. Author G. P. Murdock in "Africa: Its Peoples and Their Culture History" places the Sangu (Sagala, Wasagara, Wassungara; with the Kaguru and Vidunda) in the Rufiji Cluster (p.359). He says the Sangu were strongly affected by the Ngoni invasions of the 19th century and sometimes contained substantial Ngoni ingredients.



Nearby the Makonde added scarification to their bodies much like that seen on these two figures. According to the Makonde, shortly after the creation, the first man, wandering around outside the bush, sculpted a female figure out of wood. The statue became a real woman who gave him many children. After her death, she became the venerated ancestress of the Makonde, which accounts for the cult and the female figures that are traditionally kept in huts.





We entered into a discussion with others over the origin of the two figures. It was agreed they could be early Luguru, Makonde, Matumbi or Zaramo, as glass eyes were used in their regions. From the choices, photographic records indicate that only the Makonde practiced scarification in this manner.


The larger of the two figures stands at 52 centimetres, or + - 20.5  inches.  The smaller examples base has been restored. It has four Dutch type beads around the neck which may be 16th century. They are strung on a sort of old leather lookalike fabric. Each figure has an old string of white Venetian beads around the waist, which may very well be 19th century in origin.


The bottom line _________________ ?    We cannot say with certainty which ethnic group produced the unique figures, but we are sure .





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Rare East African Figure


Sagara - Luguru - Kaguru - Ngulu




East African Sagara or related figure - Circa 1900


Click image to visit a dedicated web page of this object.





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Chokwe Figure - Kaponya
Tshokwe Figure - Angola - Pwo





Chokwe fetish figures are called Kaponya - kamponya or camponya. They were used by diviners and ordinary people to heal and or protect the owner. In all likelihood it was made by the Chokwe, but the Lwena, Luvale, Luchazi, Mbunda and Lunda also used them.





The style of the forward carved shoulders and type of scarification indicates 19th century origin. The abundance of scarification confirms the representation is Pow (woman), not Mwana Pwo (young woman). An example by the same hand can be found in the collections of the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren. The figure stands at + - 19 centimetres tall.  





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Nkoya Fetish Figures


Kaponya figures of the Shinkoya 



The Nkoya or Shinkoya people live in Western Zambia, mostly immediately east of the Barotse Plain. They are culturally related to the Chokwe - Lunda groups and responsible for introducing the Xylophone into the region. As with their north western neighbours, a carved wooden figure of a human is called a kaponya. They are used for protection and or healing. Figures carved with points enable the 'stick' to enter the ground and are named 'tent peg' kaponya's by collectors. Above are two examples- left and centre. 




Kalulu - Henry Morton Stanley - Kalulu


The figure 'half a man or woman' is known as 'Kalulu', or Mwenda Njangula (Mwendanjagula). This example crosses and connects the boundaries of contemporary art and the traditional art of Africa. The name Kalulu occurs over a vast region. The Swahili name for rabbit is Kalulu, as was the adopted son of H M Stanley - his recorded name Kalulu.




Images taken in Zambia at the point of collection. 


Kalulu, a good sprit who lives in the forest, is known by the Chokwe, Luchazi, Luvale, Nkoya and other related peoples. Kalulu is normally carved as half a 'man', but here 'half a woman'. The detail given to the art work is exceptional. A talented Nkoya artist worked a knee into the 'tent peg' portion of this female form of Kalulu - above right.





The kaponya was discovered on the south bank of the Kabompo river, approximately 10 kilometres upstream from Watopa pontoon. It has an old repair at the point where the hand connects to the body, where a rather old carpentry nail is found. This tall fetish stick measures + - 85 centimeters or + - 34 inches. Additional images of the item are available on request.





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A Chokwe - Luvale or Luchazi Kaponya





This  + - 19 centimetres tall figure was collected in 1991, a short distance from Kabompo Zambia, on the road leading to Zambezi. The area is mainly populated with Luchazi people, but also Chokwe and Luvale. Here, facial scarification overlaps between these tribes, as did language and custom. All three groups refer to this object as kaponya - their word for a human or fetish figure.





Chief from Kapanga - Belgium Congo - Pre 1920




The figures stylized coiffure is carved in a like fashion to related beaded crowns worn by chiefs (above).




Chokwe youth near Sandoa, Belgium Congo - Circa 1922 - Henri Bourguignon


Members of the public - perhaps royal - styled their hair in a similar manner.





The symmetric accomplishment of human shaped legs as supports for the stool provide an ingenious contribution to the object. Legs are side by side, representing a chief's pose at council.





The artist carved this delightful figure with the skill of a master, and thus we are surprised to have only encountered a single example by his hand, so it may have been traded into the area.





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Chokwe Figure


Tshokwe Figure - DRC Congo - Angola





Our Chokwe or Lwena female figure, style de l'expansion, is hold a medicinal horn. She is covered with fine adze marks and like many made for traditional reasons, does not stand on its carved wooden base when place on a hard flat surface. We obtained it from the old collection of Jean DEFAYS, whose son Pierre-yves confirmed it was purchased from a gallery before 1962.




La Sculpture Tshokwe - Marie-Louise Bastin - Pgs 151, 170 -169


Some of the first Chokwe figures collected by Europeans depict the hunter hero Tshibinda Ilunga, who more often then not held a gun as a staff, or with one. Marie-Louise Bastin suggests in her book La Sculpture Tshokwe that a hand held medicine horn possibly represents an earlier archetype, dating before the introduction of guns. She goes onto say that this does not mean such figures are earlier then those sporting guns, but that the artists who made these remained more faithful to an ancient tradition. When describing the figure above right, she states female figures bearing a horn are far rarer.


Click Thumbnails for Larger Images

Click Thumbnails for Larger Images - Height + - 21 centimetres.


This figure wears no clothing and likely served to represent a tutelary spirit of an important old Chokwe diviner.





Chokwe fetishes were called Kaponya. The strong expression on this statue expresses wisdom.





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Hemba Ancestral Figure


Congo - DRC






This 20th century Himba figure has been in a collection for over 25 years. Such figures are devoted to the representation of male ancestors called singiti and were kept in small huts. Although every figure is the portrait of a specific person, artists portrayed generalized traits. The figures express symmetry and refinement. The serenely of the face reflects the ancestor’s interior calm. Hands on each side of the swelling belly indicate the ancestor embracing and watching over descendants.





At some point the figure was abandoned to the elements, resulting in a dry weathered surface and base.





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Bambara Marionette - Mali


Bamana - Bozo - Marka - Markala - Somono


Yayoroba - 'Sprit of Women'




Click image to visit a dedicated web page of this object.










Galerie Ezakwantu

Southern African Tribal Art - African Art 


Central and Southern African Tribal Art


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