The Ngbaka (also known as the Bwaka) traditionally made offerings to figures to cure illnesses and to protect family members from misfortunes such as bad harvests and sickness. Both male and female figures were used: the male figures are said to represent the Ngbaka creator, Setu, while female figures such as this one represent Nabo, his sister/wife. The simplified forms of Ngbaka figures characteristically have round heads with a heart-shaped outline around the face and a vertical forehead ridge, a long torso, and short, stocky legs—all features evident in this figure.
Ngbaka peoples, Democratic Republic of the Congo
First half of the 20th century
H. 20 1/8 in. (51.1 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 71.90