Mangaaka Power Figure (Nkisi N'Kondi)
Democratic Republic of Congo or Angola, Chiloango River Region; Kongo; second half of the 19th century
Wood, paint, metal, resin, ceramic; H. 46 7/16 in. (118.0 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace, Laura and James J. Ross, Daniel and Marian Malcolm, Robert T. Wall, Jeffrey B. Soref, Sidney and Bernice Clyman, and Steven M. Kossak Gifts, 2008 (2008.30)
The author of this Kongo personification of power—among the most impressive sculptural creations from sub-Saharan Africa—sought to inspire awe, to intimidate, and to evoke a power without bounds. Conceived to house specific mystical forces, Kongo power figures were the collaborative creations of sculptors and ritual specialists. This work belongs to the most ambitious class of that tradition. It is one of only twenty such figures more than a meter high identified with the preeminent force of jurisprudence, Mangaaka.
The sculptor gives visual expression to an ideal of unrivaled and assertive force as a presiding authority and enforcing lord. The crowning element is the distinctive headdress worn by chiefs or priests. The figure's posture and gesture—leaning forward arms akimbo—constitute the aggressive attitude of one who challenges fearlessly. There are also vestiges of an abdominal cavity for medicinal matter that originally attracted the figure's defining force. The various metals embedded in the expansive torso attest to the figure's central role as witness and enforcer of affairs critical to its community. They document vows sealed, treaties signed, and efforts to eradicate evil. Ultimately, this work inspired reflection on the consequences of transgressing established codes of social conduct.
Alisa LaGamma, curator, Department of Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas
The Philippe de Montebello Years: Curators Celebrate Three Decades of Acquisitions
NEW YORK • Metropolitan Museum of Art • Ongoing
|To celebrate Philippe de Montebello's 31 years as Director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the curators of the Museum organized an exhibition of approximately 300 of the more than 84,000 works of art acquired during his tenure. |
Some highlights of the exhibition include: a striding horned demon of arsenical copper (Mesopotamia or Iran, Proto-Elamite period, ca. 3000 B.C.); an Egyptian wooden statuette of a kneeling figure (wood, Late Period or Early Ptolemaic Period, 380-246 B.C.); a porphyry support for a water basin (Roman, second century A.D.); a standing Buddha in mottled red sandstone from India (Gupta period, fifth century); a leaf from a Spanish manuscript (Romanesque, ca. 1180); Duccio di Buoninsegna's Madonna and Child (ca. 1300); the illustrated manuscript Allegory of worldly and otherworldly drunkenness (Islamic, Safavid period, ca. 1526-27); Rubens, His Wife Helena Fourment (1614-1673), and Their Son Peter Paul (born 1637) (oil on canvas, probably late 1630s) by Peter Paul Rubens; Giovanni Battista Foggini's Grand Prince Ferdinando de' Medici (marble, ca. 1683-85); the armor of Infante Luis, Prince of Asturias (French, 1712); Ralph Earl's Elijah Boardman (American, oil on canvas, 1789); a salted paper print by Onésipe Aguado of a woman seen from the back (French, ca. 1862); a Kongo power figure (Nkisi N'Kondi) from the second half of the 19th century; Tahitian Faces (Frontal View and Profiles) (charcoal on laid paper, ca. 1899) by Paul Gauguin; a coat by Paul Poiret made in Paris in 1919; a guitar made by Hermann Hauser in Germany in 1937; and White Flag (1955) by Jasper Johns.
Metropolitan Museum of Art Web Site
Please click here for the Culturekiosque art and archaeology feature: Magic: Power Objects of the Peoples and Kings of Africa.
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