Monday, October 12, 2015

The Met showcases a sculpture that tells the story of a lost African civilization

By Daniel McDermon
Metropolitan Museum of Art
NEW YORK---The Met's Mangaaka figure, around four feet tall, was carved from a single piece of wood by an artist selected by a chief. The figure remained inert until it was activated by a priest, who would insert sacred materials into cavities carved within the body, behind the eyes and within the belly. Once activated, the Mangaaka served a civic purpose as well as a spiritual one. The priest who consecrated a Mangaaka would use it to finalize treaties, record transactions or settle disputes. Each of these interventions would be recorded with the addition of a piece of metal to the figure. [link]

Metropolitan Museum of Art: “Kongo: Power and Majesty” (Ends January 3, 2015); 1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street), New York, NY; (212) 535-7710;