Rare Kuba Male Figure, Central Congo Region, Democratic Republic of the Congo
height 25 1/4in (64cm)
Henri Kamer, New York and Paris
Private Collection, New York
The top of head having a shaved hairline and close-cropped coiffure with dual, central linear motif; the face carved with rounded chin, gently undulating facial plane with slightly protruding forehead, an open mouth with carved lips and triangular nose below carved cowrie-shaped eyes and raised ears; scarification extending across the forehead on both sides of the head and on the cheeks, the upper neck having carved detail with scarification at the base of the neck. The torso exhibiting a muscular chest and upper back muscles with the arms to the sides, extending upwards above the elbows with the hands crossed at the wrists and resting on the lower chest area with defined, outstretched fingers; carved genitalia above the feet resting on a worn, integral domed base; rich brown/black glossy patina.
"Ambitious and status-conscious Kuba officials require splendid sumptuous articles as visible signs of their wealth and rank. Highly specialized artists--carvers, smiths, weavers, embroiderers, leather workers, jewelers, event hat and pipe-makers--supply their needs. Kuba art consists mostly of such useful objects as cups for drinking palm wine, boxes for storing cosmetics and valuables, pipes, and spoons--all of which are elaborated beyond mere function by their sophisticated forms and lavish decoration. Except for portraits of kings, figural sculpture is rare; instead, cups are made in human form, frequently bearing the ornate hairstyles and shaved hairlines worn by titled Kuba officials..." (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)