African, Hungaan peoples, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Object Place: Republic of Congo
60.96 cm (24 in.)
Medium or Technique
Richard B. Carter Gallery (Gallery 171)
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.
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)
Gift of William E. and Bertha L. Teel