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KONGO (Zaïre)
H : 38 cm. Wood, earth and cloth
Musée Dapper - Paris

This enigmatic figure remains a mystery unless you understand that its most important part, the "bilongo", made up of earth and different organic matter, including sacrificial blood, is shrouded in cloth tied on with cords. This is the essential magic element. In this case, the bilongo enwraps practically the whole statue in Christo-like fashion, leaving free only the stumpy, barely-fashioned legs and the twin-shelled head which are the only anthropomorphic traits of this object entirely closed in on its secret. The important Bateke tribe from the Congo made wide usage of these statuettes, notably to favour childbirth and the health of the newly born.

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