- Label Text
- Yaka and Suku artists of the Democratic Republic of the Congo create personal charms with packets of cloth and organic materials. Packets can envelop a human figure in a ball-like manner, or flank the figure about the torso with protruding sticks, feathers or bamboo. Known as phuungu or pungu, these items are meant to ward off evil and protect against witchcraft, but can also be used to cause harm to anyone making trouble. Figures such as this were generally owned by the head of a patrilineal kin group and could protect familial relations as well as individuals. The particular ingredients and function of each figure is determined by a diviner and a specialist then sought for its manufacture.
- The Suku and Yaka are so closely related, culturally and religiously, and their arts so similar that it is often difficult to distinguish their sculpture. However, this figure is likely Yaka, as Eliot Elisofon rarely, if at all, visited Suku villages.
- Human figure in wood surrounded from the shoulder to the waist by a bundle of cloth and organic materials caked with encrustation. The legs are straight and wide set, and the face of the figure is not well defined, though the nose and mouth are suggested by shallow projections.
- Eliot Elisofon, New York, -- to 1973
- Data Source
- National Museum of African Art
- Suku artist
- Yaka artist
- Early to mid-20th century
- Credit Line
- Bequest of Eliot Elisofon
- Wood, resin, encrustation, pigment
- H x W x D: 10 x 3.8 x 5 cm (3 15/16 x 1 1/2 x 1 15/16 in.)