Central Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Teke peoples, ca. first half of the 20th century CE. A hand-carved wooden figure known as a matomba wrapped with a barrel-shaped fabric bilongo. The figure stands with fused feet and wears the bilongo so it covers the entire abdomen and chest and has its neck protruding from the top. The highly stylized head features a broad nose above a protruding, tab-shaped chin, a rounded brow, and a tied-back coiffure. Rich brown patina is accentuated with remains of orange-red pigment that suggests how vibrant layers of color once covered this figure. Size: 3.25" W x 8.2" H (8.3 cm x 20.8 cm); 8.5" H (21.6 cm) on included custom stand.
Cf. Bacquart, Jean-Baptiste. "The Tribal Arts of Africa: Surveying Africa's Artistic Geography." Thames & Hudson, New York, 2000, p. 132, fig. 2.
Another example of a matomba figure hammered for EUR 5,000 ($5,902.35) at Christie's, Paris "Collection Jacqueline Loudmer (Succession Jacqueline Millodot) - Art d'Afrique et d'Oceanie et Art Moderne" auction (sale 13638, June 23, 2016, lot 124).
Provenance: private Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA collection; ex-Jan Baum Gallery, Los Angeles, California, USA
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Minor chips to legs, head, and pigment, with desiccation to bilongo fabric commensurate with age, and one stable hairline fissure in center of forehead, otherwise intact and very good. Great patina and remains of pigment throughout.