Figure

African, Hungaan peoples, Democratic Republic of the Congo
20th century


Object Place: Republic of Congo

Dimensions

60.96 cm (24 in.)

Accession Number

1994.409

Medium or Technique

Wood, pigment

On View

Richard B. Carter Gallery (Gallery 171)

Collections

Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art

Classifications

Sculpture

Neighbors of the Mbala, Yaka, and Pende, the Hungaan were renowned for their work in iron and ivory, but little is known about the function of their distinctive wood figures. Some may have been protective spirits; others may have had a role in healing practices. This figure on short thick legs displays a swelling body and raised arms supporting the chin and crested head. Graceful braids sweep down the back. The ears have holes for attachments, and some Hungana figures were augmented by figurines or amulets.

Provenance

First quarter of the 20th century until about 1978, said to have belonged to the family of a missionary, Belgium; about 1978, sold by this family to a private collector, Belgium. 1988, Marc Leo Felix (dealer), Brussels; May, 1988, sold by Felix to William and Bertha Teel, Marblehead, MA; 1994, partial gift of William and Bertha Teel to the MFA; 2014, acquired fully with the bequest of William Teel to the MFA. (Accession Dates: January 26, 1994 and February 26, 2014)

Credit Line

Gift of William E. and Bertha L. Teel