late 1800s-early 1900s
Wood and paint
Overall: 64.7 cm (25 1/2 in.)
Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 1997.149
The Kongo people inhabit a large territory now divided among the nations of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cabinda, and Angola. The mother and child theme is common in the carving of the Yombe, one of the many Kongo ethnic groups; this example is distinguished by the emotionally powerful expression of the mother's gaunt face. The large size and soft wood of this sculpture indicate a funerary function and placement within a roofed ancestral shrine. The Yombe woman represented was clearly powerful; perhaps her fertility was critical to the survival and prosperity of her clan.
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