Rectangular Sculpture with Six Figures

11008442-2007_018_001_Qpa_ARC.tif

Title

Rectangular Sculpture with Six Figures

Keywords

Sculpture

Date

late 19th-early 20th Century

Context

Central Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Loango
Vili

Medium/Dimensions

Ivory
2 1/2 x 1 3/4 x 1 in. (6.4 x 4.4 x 2.5 cm)

Object Number

2007.018.001

Description

From the mid-19th century through the first two decades of the 20th, the Vili peoples of the coastal region of Loango (situated within present-day Democratic Republic of Congo) created ivory sculptures for sale to Europeans. Many carvings cover entire elephant tusks with a spiraling procession of small figures. Others are small enough to fit in the palm of the hand or slip into a pocket for easy transport.

This tiny, superbly carved sculpture features relief scenes of the colonial encounter between Europeans and Africans. On one side of the carving, a rural African trader wearing a cap and a long wrapped skirt shakes hands on a business deal with an urban African businessman wearing elements of Scottish dress, the urban fashion-forward dress of the day. On the reverse side, a smartly dressed European gentleman addresses an elite African woman using a long-standing indigenous Vili gesture of respect and mourning: hand-to-chin. More difficult to interpret are the naked figures on the sides of the sculpture. The modest figure covering his genitals suggests missionary-instilled attitudes toward nudity. The figure's pose is reminiscent of European Christian representations of Adam and Eve's expulsion from Eden and may be based on printed imagery featured in mission Bibles. On the reverse side, another naked figure is shown dropping off a wall, perhaps a reference to escape from slavery, by then an "officially" banned practice.

Credit Line

Museum purchase

Exhibits/Publications

MCCM Permanent Collection Reinstallation, 2008 - December 1, 2014|
MCCM Permanent Collection Galleries, August 6, 2016 - September 1, 2016|
Sleight of Hand, Zuckerman Museum of Art, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Georgia, September 10 - December 4, 2016|
MCCM Permanent Collection Galleries, January 17, 2017 - Present|


MCCM Newsletter, December 2007 - February 2008.|
Michael C. Carlos Museum: Highlights of the Collections (Atlanta: Michael C. Carlos Museum, 2011), 109.

Rights

© Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Bruce M. White, 2014.
This image is provided by the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University, who retains all rights in it. This image is made available for limited non-commercial, educational, and personal use only, or for fair use as defined by United States law. For all other uses, please contact the Michael C. Carlos Museum Office of Collections Services at +1(404) 727-4282 or mccm.collections.services@emory.edu. Users must cite the author and source of the image as they would material from any printed work, but not in any way that implies endorsement of the user or the user's use of the image. Users may not remove any copyright, trademark, or other proprietary notices, including without limitation attribution information, credits, and copyright notices that have been placed on or near the image by the Museum. The Museum assumes no responsibility for royalties or fees claimed by the artist or third parties. The User agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Emory University, its Michael C. Carlos Museum, its agents, employees, faculty members, students and trustees from and against any and all claims, losses, actions, damages, expenses, and all other liabilities, including but not limited to attorney’s fees, directly or indirectly arising out of or resulting from its use of photographic images for which permission is granted hereunder.

On View

Yes

Citation

“Rectangular Sculpture with Six Figures,” Michael C. Carlos Museum Collections Online, accessed June 3, 2020, http://carlos.digitalscholarship.emory.edu/items/show/7631.

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