K0T9S254.jpg (22781 bytes)K0T9S254S.jpg (30533 bytes)Teke (Anzika, Bakono, Bateke, M’Teke, Tege, Teo, Tere, Tsio,), both Congo republics and Gabon

Fetish figure. The Teke inhabit the Stenley Pool area, in both Congo republics. They are farmers and hunters and live in an area of plateaus covered by savannah, in villages grouped under a district chief. The Teke believed in a supreme being, the creator of the universe, called Nziam, but their only cult was an ancestor cult. Among others Teke artists carved fetish figures. They have apotropaic functions, in other words they have the power to ward off evil. Each figure has its own specific purpose not related directly to its appearance. The figure may serve to protect the child until puberty, for success in hunting, trading, and other activities, each figure's purpose being known only to the owner. The power of the statue is in a magical substance (bilongo) contained in the small sacks surrounding the body. If a fetish figure successfully demonstrates its power, its owner may detach bilongo and insert fragments into other figures. Typical is the presence of fine parallel scarification marks on the cheeks. The magic stuff may be earth and plant resin mixed with white chalk, small pieces of wood, hair, or other ingredients.

Materials: wood, tissue, fiber

Size:   H. 43” W. 9”, D. 9”