Cleveland Museum of Art acquires a stellar collection of Congolese art from Odette Delenne of Belgium
Enhancing an already varied collection of remarkable African works, the Cleveland Museum has acquired additional Congolese material for which the planned exhibition in 2013 should be anticipated eagerly.
See article and images at the links below:
In the meanwhile, searching the preview images of the new acquisitions as well as on-line database of current holdings offers excellent comparative examples for many classes of objects frequently queried. (Incidentally, bookmarking links to museum collections and on-line databases provides an excellent, streamlined resource for investigation of newly discovered forms and facilitates the filtering of materials by which to identify and assess!)
Search the Cleveland Museum's African holdings here.
All images below are from the Cleveland Museum of Art web-site
Female Bowl-Bearing Figure, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Luba people. Such bowl-bearing figures are among the most important accessories of royal diviners. The female figure is sometimes interpreted as the wife of the spirit by which the diviner is possessed during his divination session. In general, such sculptures belong to the category of mankishi or “power figures” that enable communication with the spirit world.
Male and Female Figure Pair, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ngbandi people. A pair of figures like these stunning works most likely represents the founding ancestral couple of a community. Displayed near a shrine, or simply stored in the house of a husband and wife, such sculptures were believed to bring good luck and offer protection.
Male Figure, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Songye people. An exquisite example of a Songye nkishi or “power figure,” this type of carving was used to deal with all kinds of human trials and tribulations. Assuring the figure’s effectiveness are the animal, plant or mineral ingredients that the ritual specialist assembles and inserts in one or more cavities, most often in the swollen abdomen, or in a horn planted in the skull. Such an implanted horn at once functioned as an “antenna” between earthly and heavenly realms.
Male Figure, Republic of the Congo, Beembe people. This large figure of the Beembe people is arguably the finest and most beautiful of two surviving carvings of this genre, the other being preserved at the Museum of Ethnology of the University of Zurich, Switzerland. The hairdo and beard suggest that this is the representation of a chief or at least a high-ranking male individual. It is believed that the figure belonged to a cult of the ancestors and that its responsibilities included assuring the protection and well-being of its owner.
Helmet Mask, Republic of the Congo, Suku people. Such helmet masks, generically called hemba among the Suku, were danced within the context of the nkhanda puberty ritual for young boys. Specifically, they performed within the seclusion of the initiation camp when important charms were shown to the initiates. The masks were also considered charms and believed to posses healing powers.
Selections from the Museum collection: