**Originally Listed At $2000**
Central Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kuba peoples, ca. early 20th century CE. A fine set of two stylized male and female anthropomorphic initiation figures, each hand-carved from soft wood. The figures stand atop delineated legs with thick thighs and delineated genitalia in-between, bent arms held tightly to the stocky torsos, and the woman's abdomen is distended beneath pendulous breasts, perhaps as a sign of pregnancy. The woman's head boasts puffy ovoid eyes beneath high-arching brows, a wide nose, and incised lips beneath a conical coiffure. The man's countenance displays a more dramatic stylization with protruding conical eyes beneath a bulbous head, and a tall coiffure crest projects from atop his head. Traces of faded orange and black pigmentation are visible across the faces and bodies of both figures, making both attractive examples from Central Africa! Custom wooden display stands included. Size: 6" W x 27" H (15.2 cm x 68.6 cm); 28.25" H (71.8 cm) on included custom stand.
The Kuba created many sculpted images of females, both as standing statues and as figural cups for drinking palm wine. The Kuba kingdom was founded at the beginning of the 17th century CE and reached its height in the mid-19th century before contact with Europeans in the late 19th century. Sculptors had a privileged position in the society and used their art to increase their prestige by carving statues like these examples. Figures like this were carved and brought out as part of a masquerade ritual where young men and women are initiated into the Kuba society as adults rather than the unprepared youths they were.
For a stylistically-similar example, please see: Robbins, Warren M. and Nancy Ingram Nooter. "African Art in American Collections: Survey 1989." Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., Pennsylvania, 2004, p. 421, fig. 1070.
Provenance: private New York, New York, USA collection
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Both figures have losses to parts of feet, legs, bodies, and heads, with fading to original pigmentation, several stable fissures, and light encrustations. Nice earthen deposits and fabulous patina throughout.