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Web of Art 15: African Interactions

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Ndop figure of a king (possibly Kot).
18th c African (Central) Kuba Bushoong Sculpture

KUBA Anonymous (Before 16th c - present) Primary
c. 1700-1799
18th c
Wood
Carved
Kuba Bushoong
Congo.
Belgium. Tervuren Museum.
African56.afr03c79
The Congo, which is characterized by dense jungle and a hot, humid climate as well as many rivers, has been home to many African peoples, many moving deeper into the jungle under pressure from other groups. The area, which was known as the Belgian Congo during the Colonial period, then Zaire, and now the Republic of the Congo, was the home of many different groups, which ranged from small autonomous village communities to mighty feudal kingdoms, each with unique artistic styles. Although we will not be able to investigate this prolific and exciting art in any detail, we will briefly examine works by the Kuba and Luba peoples. I should note that a number of the African figures discussed at the beginning of the lesson came from this region. The Kuba are famous for the depictions of their rulers, know as the ndop, who dominated a vast kingdom. There are a whole series of these, each seemingly depicting one of the 22 recorded kings who ruled since the beginning of the 17th century. They are all beautifully carved from hardwood and were carefully protected, and so have resisted the ravages of time and weather. The introduction of the royal ndop is traditionally attributed to Shyaam aMbul aNgoong, the first ruler of the Matoon dynasty. Although they should have been carved during the 17th and 18th centuries, current thinking attributes the first ten to the late 18th century, all by one hand. All the figures, including this one are beautifully carved and all show the same proportions of very large head, with a one to three ratio to body size, as opposed to the one to seven more typical of western portraits. All the figures wear a similar headdress, a symbol of their royal power, but each holds different attributes, in this case a drum. The statue is decorated with a necklace and on his body are representations of cowry shells, which may represent either ritual scarification or jewelry. His eyes are based on stylized cowries.

Caption: KUBA | Ndop figure of a king (possibly Kot).| c. 1700-1799 | Central African | Kuba-Bushoong
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