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Kongo figure in landmark show at the MET

by Entwistle on 28 October 2015

The Kongo mangaaka figure acquired from Entwistle by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York is now the springboard for the landmark exhibition 'Kongo: Power and Majesty'

This important central African power figure is identified with the preeminent force of jurisprudence, Mangaaka -  the power represented as a presiding authority and enforcing lord or king. The figure’s posture and gesture, leaning forward with hands placed akimbo on the hips, is the aggressive attitude of one who challenges fearlessly. Moreover, the crowning element on the figure is the distinctive mpu headdress worn by chiefs or priests.

In the September 17th, 2015 issue of The New York Times, Holland Cotter writes a review of the show:

In the September 30th, 2015 issue of The New York Times, Daniel McDermon writes on this specific figure:


The traces of a missing beard on the face are a sign of seniority which survive in the form of nails along the contours of the chin.  There are also vestiges of an abdominal cavity for medicinal matter that originally attracted the figure’s defining force. 
The various metals embedded in the figure’s expansive torso and other parts of its body attest to its central role as witness and enforcer of affairs critical to its community - they document vows sealed, treaties signed, and efforts to eradicate evil.  Ultimately, this work inspired reflection on the consequences of transgressing established codes of social conduct.

In the October 12, 2015 issue of The New Yorker magazine, Peter Schjeldahl writes the following review:

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