Lot: 87

Figural post "ngya", 19th/ early 20th century

South Sudan, Bongo

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
David Henrion, Brussels, Belgium
Serge Schoffel, Brussels, Belgium
H: 31.9 inch 11000 EUR / 20000 EUR

wood, base During his lifetime, a Bongo man could gain honor and prestige by successfully hunting large animals such as buffalos, elephants, lions, and leopards, or by achieving victory in combat. These funerary sculptures would have been added to the sepulture by relatives about a year after an important man's death, on the occasion of a large feast. The deceased's life story was told and his exploits are praised by members of his family. Most Bongo posts were erected in commemoration of imprtant men, but remarkable women were sometimes also accorded this privilege. These anthropomorphic posts are not intended to be naturalistic representations of the deceased, but they feature personal adornments such as bracelets and scarification patterns that can be seen as clear markers of identity. The central figure representing the honored individual was not the only sculpture adorning the grave site; it was often accompanied by representations of the man's wife, children, and sometimes even his victims. Completing the installation were abstract posts featuring series of stacked notches, which indicate the number of successful hunts achieved by the deceased. This ensemble of wooden monuments and the scale of the feast confirm the title and rank attained by the deceased during his lifetime, and ensure that he maintains that place of distinction in the afterlife.

Schoffel, S., Baeke, V. et al., "Art en premier", Brussels 2017, p. 118 & 121