The pigments of the bonding material look very old and possibly was done by the Songye people. The repair has not affected the integrity of the wood. It's solid as not physically noticeable. Measurements 23" H x 8" W x 9.5 D. Songye origins are shared with the Luba through a common mythical Songye ancestor known as Kongolo, who can be traced through lineages to the 16th century.
The linguistic traditions of these neighboring peoples are intertwined as well. It is believed that the founders of the Songye emerged from the lake region in Shaba province to the south in the heart of the Luba homeland. The Lomani River divides Songye territory and marks the boundary of the areas invaded by the Luba. As a result of these geographic and political differences there emerged of two distinct social structures among the eastern and western Songye and two stylistic differences in art forms between the two areas.The Songye traditionally relied mostly on farming and hunting for subsistence. Because the rivers were associated with the spirits of deceased chiefs who were often buried in them, fishing was not practiced except in times of great need. The artistic wares of the Songye, including pottery made by women and weaving and metalworking done by men, were traded extensively with their neighbors.
The Songye created a sculptural style of intense dynamism and vitality. The works of Songye craftsmen are often used within the secret societies during various ceremonies. They produced a large number of figures belonging to the fetishist, who manipulates them during the rituals of the full moon.Songye fetish figures vary in size from 4" to 60". They are usually male and stand on a circular base.
Strips of metal, nails or other paraphernalia are sometimes applied over the face, which counteract evil spirits and aggressors and channel lightings against them. The top of the head and the abdomen are usually hollowed to allow insertion of fetish material, called boanga. These figuresadopt a hieratic posture, the hands placed on a pointed abdomen; on top of the head they have a horn or feathers reinforcing a disquieting appearance. The fetishist would make the boanga with magic ingredients, which he crumbled and mixed, thus obtaining a paste that was kept in an antelope horn hung from the roof of the house.The magic ingredients consist of a wide variety of animal, vegetal, mineral and human substances that activate and bring into play benevolent ancestral spirits. The face is often covered with nails, a reminder of smallpox. The style of Songye fetishes, carved from wood or horn and decorated with shells, is not as realistic as the classic Luba style, and their integration of non-naturalistic, more geometric forms is impressive.
The figures are used to ensure their success, fertility, and wealth and to protect people against hostile forces as lightning, as well as against diseases such as smallpox, very common in that region. While smaller figures of this type were kept and consulted by individuals, larger ones were responsible for ensuring the welfare of an entire community. This item is in the category "Collectibles\Cultures & Ethnicities\African\1900-Now\Masks".
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