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Teke figure

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948507Teke figureThese figures were activated by diviners and were believed to hold the power to prevent diseases or death. Teke figureThese figures were activated by diviners and were believed to hold the power to prevent diseases or...Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/multimedia/2008.4.212.jpgLe Havre Museum of Natural History – Photo credit : C. Livonnen
948507They usually had medicine bags attached to their elbows.They usually had medicine bags attached to their elbows.Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/multimedia/2008.4.212a.jpgLe Havre Museum of Natural History – Photo credit : C. Livonnen
10241040In addition to various organic materials, these medicine bags contained a small metal ball, as revealed by radiographs of these figures.In addition to various organic materials, these medicine bags contained a small metal ball, as...Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/styles/exposition/public/multimedia/teke_6_00000.jpg?itok=EqsS-6iALe Havre Museum of Natural History - Laboratoire MNHN
10241040RadiographRadiographZoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/styles/exposition/public/multimedia/teke_2_00000.jpg?itok=QbG6hayHLe Havre Museum of Natural History - Laboratoire MNHN

Teke figure

 

  • Origin : Republic of the Congo or Democratic Republic of the Congo

  • Ethnic group : Teke

  • Date : 19th century or early 20th century

  • Materials : wood, vegetable fibres, metal, upholstery nails

  • Dimensions : 24 cm x 7 cm
  • Inventory number : 2008.4.212

Teke male figures are easily recognisable thanks to their common stylistic characteristics : bent legs, bent arms perpendicular to the body, scarified face, trapezoidal beard, and helm-shaped headdress.

Even though most Teke figures (aka butti) are embedded from neck to feet in a matrix containing magic charges, this specimen only features two little medicine bags attached to its elbows.

In addition to various organic materials, one of the medicine bags contains a small metal ball, as revealed by a radiograph of this figure.

The diviner (aka nganga) is the only individual entitled to activate the magic charges contained in the figures and unleash their power.

The Teke ritual is very similar to their Kongo and Vili neighbours nkisi ritual. The figure is believed to hold the power to prevent diseases or death.

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