Photographs © Tim Hamill
BONGO (?) STYLE FUNERARY POST 9
For additional information on these posts we recommend a feature article on them by Klaus-Jochen Kruger in the Winter/Spring 1999/2000 issue of Tribal Arts.
These large sculptures come from the Bongo people of southern Sudan. They were noted as early as the nineteenth century when travelers reported large sculpted funerary or memorial markers placced above tombs composed of large stones. Sculpted figures on a plinth or abstracted pole-like sculptures surmounted by a carved head were at best idealized representations of the dead and not portraits of a specific person. Among the Bongo large sculptures recognized and honored male elites, warriors, chiefs or locally significant personages. Within a small fenced gravesite the large figurative sculptures were part of tableaux of smaller figures representing family members while the abstracted pole style of funerary figures will often have ridged necks with each ridge purportedly indicating an enemy or large animal killed. Erected with a ceremony during which dishes of food were left at the grace site the figures and posts were also said to protect against sorcerers spells.
All are carved out of dense red mahogany, which has faded with exposure. Small chips, usually on the rings reveal the original color. Some were originally painted but no evidence of paint remains on these.
Despite its appearance this post shows no evidence of age or use and might have been made to be sold.
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