Pende Figural Amulet, Democratic Republic of the Congo
height 2 1/4in (5.7cm)
Sotheby's, New York, May 1988, Lot 99
Private Collection, New York.
The Yale-Van Rijn Archive of African Art, 0046836-01.
Cf. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Pendant: Figure, accession number: 1979.206.259 and accession number: 1978.412.660 (ivory figure on snuff box).
A superb standing anthropomorphic figure with the oversized head carved in relief wearing a two-tiered hat, cowrie-shaped eyes, ears, widened nose and lips all carved in relief. Delicately incised brows. The minimal torso having relief-carved arms resting on the abdomen above short legs and carved feet. There is a pierced hole for suspension through the neck area; very fine honey to dark-brown glossy patina.
"The Central Pende peoples replicate masks in miniature form. Wooden versions produced by healing specialists are prescribed by diviners as remedies. In contrast, their ivory counterparts, gikhokho, are made by professional sculptors to be worn as decorative pendants. While its texture and resistance to cracking make elephant ivory the material of choice, the thighbones of hippopotamuses allow artists to achieve comparable effects. Bodily contact through wear alters the whiteness of the pendants. Although this effect is prized by Western collectors, the Pende themselves scrub the ornament's surface daily with water and abrasive sand, which blurs the features over time." (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)
"Most ikhoko have an extremely delicate, amber-coloured patina due to years of use, washing with fine sand and continual contact with the wearer's skin, which was rubbed with oil and redwood powder." (Afrika Museum, Berg en Dal, Netherlands)
- Please note this work comes with a fitted base.