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Statue representing a male figure whose body is bent forward. The legs are bent, the arms are bent and the hands rest on the upper thighs. The heart-shaped face is stoic and is surmounted by a bi-lobed headdress. The eyes are highlighted with white, the head with red and remnants of yellow-ocher pigment are present on the front of the torso.
These statues called "Ofika" or statuette of a hanged man officially represent a person condemned to death by hanging for having broken the laws of the "lilwa" society. It represents justice and social order. They came out during initiation rites and presented to young boys during rites of passage. They therefore have an educational function but they also serve to preserve the spirits of the deceased and prevent their return among the living.
They were presented lying on a stretcher of branches, like a corpse. We can see on this copy four fastener holes at the back of this statue.
Mbole people, Democratic Republic of Congo
Wood with a patina of use, pigments
Mid 20th century
Provenance: - Former Belgian private collection,
- Collected in situ by a former settler, Mr. René Germain (1914–1986). He was posted in Congo from 1937 at the National Institute for Belgian Congo Agricultural Studies (INEAC) in Yangambi.