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Huge / Early 20th C. African Lengola Wood Burial Votive

Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lengola peoples, ca. early 20th century CE. A massive carved wooden burial votive sculpture depicting three superimposed heads atop a pointed stake-like lower terminus. Each visage presents characteristically abstract features including large coffee bean shaped eyes, a long vertical protruding nose, and an open mouth upon an angular ovoid head - the left half of each face is painted with a rich red pigment. A powerful example with angular stretched faces, elongated necks, nice remaining pigment, and deep patina. Size: 70.5" H (179.1 cm); 72.5" H (184.2 cm) on included custom stand.

The Lengola peoples are best known for their large statues called Butoka which are believed to possess apotropaic powers and are used to secure social stability. They are also used during the Butoka society's initiation ceremonies. Multiple headed figures like this example are more rare.

A Lengola double headed statuette on a round stool that was only 13 1/3" (34 cm) tall sold at Sotheby's Paris for 9,600 Euros on June 8, 2007. (http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/lot.144.html/2007/african-and-oceanic-art-session-i-various-owners-session-ii-andreas-and-kathrin-lindner-collection-greub-collection-pf7006) This piece is more than 5 times that size.

Condition: Expected age cracks, abraded nose of lowest face and a few other areas as shown, and surface wear commensurate with age. Inactive insect losses to lower end as shown. Nice remains of red pigment and rich patina.

Provenance: private Omer Claiborne collection, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, acquired over the last 40 years

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