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Kongo Nail Fetishes from the Chiloango River Area

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  • Rand African Art
    Hello everyone, I hope this message finds everyone in good spirits. Since I’ve had some extra time I have been doing a lot of reading, mainly on the Kongo
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 1, 2005
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      Hello everyone,


      I hope this message finds everyone in good spirits.


      Since I’ve had some extra time I have been doing a lot of reading, mainly on the Kongo nkisi and nkondi nail fetish figures since they are going to be the topic of my next “You Be the Judge” page. I ran across an interesting article in the last few days that I thought might be of interest to others in the group as well so I thought I would share it.


      The article mainly deals with nail fetish figures, which was my main purpose for reading it, but also of interest in the article is how it talks about how the fact that objects were originally collected in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s without any real significant attention put towards ethnic groups, tribal divisions, stylistic schools or individual artists. It has been through exhibitions and publications that have led people to start identifying stylistic similarities, and putting the puzzles together from the known histories of some items that often times led to pieces being attributed to a particular sub group of people or even to individual artists.


      The article takes a group of nail fetish figures from various museums and private collections around the world and compares their histories and stylistic similarities of the pieces and narrows them all down to a specific workshop in the Congo .


      I found the article interesting and hope you will enjoy it as well. Hopefully I will be finished with my You Be the Judge page on nail fetish figures soon and I will be able to share that with you all.


      Excerpt from the article:

      In 1937 in Antwerp , Frans Olbrechts organized a memorable exhibition of art from the Belgian Congo (now Zaire ) that included 1,525 pieces, mainly from private collections. From these, Olbrechts was able to distinguish a style shared by ten Luba sculptures, which he named "Style a face allongee de Buli,'' after the village on the Lualaba River where two of the ten objects had been discovered (Olbrechts 1959:71-75). For the first time, the work of a black African artist— thereafter referred to as the Master of Buli—had been clearly defined through a procedure normally applied in attributions of art from Western cultures. Other specialists proceeded along the lines traced by the Belgian scholar, and now it is apparent that African art appeared to be anonymous because of our ignorance, if not our cultural presumption, for these artists were well
      known in their native villages and often beyond, their fame lasting after their deaths.


      Click on the link below to go to the article:





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