Kongo Wooden Sculpture of a Kneeling Man - PF.5614
Origin: Democratic Republic of Congo
Circa: 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 12" (30.5cm) high
Collection: African
Style: Kongo
Medium: Wood

This remarkable, enigmatic figure kneels on his left leg with his head turned to the side. He has large protruding ears, almond shaped eyes, and he sticks his tongue out of his open mouth. The sidelong gaze appears in few Kongo figures, yet its significance is unknown. The indication of the ribs and spinal chord is also very unusual and may refer to the common Kongo disease called lubanzi (literally meaning “ribs”, a chest ailment including pneumonia). The protruding tongue probably indicates that licking medicines once contained within the cup emerging from his chest was part of the ritual for this sculpture. Perhaps this sculpture also has a fertility significance do to the prominent phallus projecting slightly below the medicine container. Overall, this figure is indicative of the magic and mystery that pervades certain ceremonial sculptures. - (PF.5614)