NGATA FIGURE 3, DRC

 

Photographs © Tim Hamill

NGATA
Figure 3
66.5" high
$2000

This figure has the unusual feature of a removable mask covering a hollow box in the head. We do not believe that it is a traditional object but more likely represents a piece of sculpture created for the art market.

All sculpture made among the Ngata is related to their elaborate funerary rituals. Best known are the wooden anthropomorphic polychromed coffins, which exist in both male and female forms. Reports about their use conflict, but what is certain is that they were carved in secrecy at a sacred clearing in the forest called Efomba by a ritual specialist woodcarver, bobongo, and the coffin is called bonganga-nganga. These anthropomorphic figures were put on the tombs of important people, in a small house built solely for that purpose.

Ngata coffins all have a similar hyperelongation, often with a herringbone pattern which lends the figure an appearance of even more height.


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