A king figure (ndop) of the Kuba, Kongo. Figure sits crosslegged on a square platform (yiing) with geometric patterns. In front of the king is three-row game board (lele). Holding a ceremonial horn in his right hand. Wearing a distinctive projecting hoe-shaped headddress. Other key items of regalia include the representation of a circular neck ring, cane shoulder hoops; fine shiny patina, several agecracks in particular onn the top of the head.
Ndop, wooden carving of King Shyaam aMbul aNgoong, from the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), late 18th century, wood, 55 cm high (British Museum)
Ndop sculpture have rounded contours creating forms that define the head, shoulders and stomach, and also feature a defined collarbone. While the relative naturalism may appear to have been informed by an artist’s one-to-one observation of the nyim, ndop sculptures aren’t exact likenesses; they are not actually created from direct observation. Instead, cultural conventions and visual precedents guide the artists in making the sculpture. The expression on the face, the position of the body, and the regalia were meant to faithfully represent the ideal of a king—but not an individual King. For example, the facial features of each statue follow sculpting conventions and do not represent features of a specific individual. All figures are sculpted using a one-to-three proportion—the head of the statue was sculpted to be one third the size of the total statue. Kuba artists emphasized the head because it was considered to be the seat of intelligence, a valued ideal.
How are we able to identify each ndop, then? There are specific attributes that link each ndop to named individuals. All ndop sculpture would feature a geometric motif and an emblem (ibol), chosen by the nyim when he was installed as a leader and commissioned his ndop. The geometric motif pattern and the ibol served as identifying symbols of his reign and was sculpted in prominent relief on the front of each base. The ibol is a signifier that gives the ndop its particular identity, making it clear who the sculpture portrays and what reign it represents. A drum with a severed hand is the ibol for Mishe miShyaang maMbul’s reign, and that helps us identify the sculpture as his likeness.
Other styles or conventions that were followed by sculptors of Ndop can be found in royal regalia such as belts, armbands, bracelets, shoulder ornaments, and a unique projecting headdress, called a shody. The arms of each ndopextend vertically at either side of the torso, with the left hand grasping the handle of a ceremonial knife (ikul) and the right hand resting on the knee. Artists decorated the surface of the sculpture by carving representations of what was conventionally worn; the finely chiseled details correspond to objects that represent the prerogative and prestige of the nyim.
3.600 – 4.000,- Euro
Height: 56,5 cm
Weight: 3,6 kg