Songye Fetish Figure

  • Product Code: SO1-121
  • Dimensions: 6" x 26" x 9"
  • Availability: In Stock
  • USD $


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The Songye migrated from the Shaba area, which is now the southern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and settled on the left bank of the Lualaba River, on a savannah and forest-covered plateau in the 16th century. They are a patriarchal society in which agriculture is central to the economy. Songye fetish figures are usually male and stand on a circular base. They have an elongated torso framed by set-apart arms and their hands rest on their abdomen. Their enlarged head has a square or pointed chin, an open mouth, and a triangular nose set between enlarged globular eyes. Very large figures are community-owned among the Songye. They are used primarily in ceremonies to promote fertility, vanquish enemies, or protect the village. Smaller figures such as this are used similarly, but may be owned by individuals. Substances invested with magical properties are added to the sculptures to empower them. This particular fetish is made with wood, teeth, horn, feathers, and cloth. These materials, called bishimba, are intended to infuse the fetish with the characteristics of the animal they are derived from. This particular fetish has been carved with a square chin, which indicates it may be from the north and is indicative of the Kalebwe style. -Robbins/Nooter -Bacquart

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