b1404. Chokwe

by Boris Wastiau

5 continents editions. Visions of Africa Series. New. 144 pp., paperback, 63/4 x 11 in. 64 colour ills. and 15 b/w ills. ISBN 88-7439-293-1 This introduction to the visual art of one of the most renowned peoples of Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo deals exclusively with sculpture in the round. After situating the Chokwe in time and space, the different chapters examine the figurines used in the ritual of divination, the statuary connected with the humba possession cults, antique (eighteenth and nineteenth centuries) classical statuary referred to as “of the native land”, court items, privileges of the warrior aristocracy, and wooden masks linked to the chieftanship and the initiation rites of circumcision. Particular attention is devoted to the precious effigies of Chibinda Ilunga, the civilising hero of the myths of the origins, almost all the exemplars of which were brought to Europe in the nineteenth century, as well as to chairs, whose symbolism and function are revelatory both of the religion and the hierarchical structure of the chieftanship. Some fifteen field photographs, for the most part unpublished and coming from the archives of the Ethnography Department of the Royal Museum of Central
Africa (Tervuren), illustrate the text. Boris Wastiau, since 1996, is one of the conservators of the Ethnography Department of the Royal Museum of Central Africa at Tervuren. He specialises in the ritual arts of the Upper Zambezi and the Upper Kasai, as well as in the history of the collections.


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