African Art
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Unconsecrated Power Figure

early 20th century

Wood

8 x 2 x 2 in. (20.32 x 5.08 x 5.08 cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. James M. Osborn for the Linton Collection of African Art
1954.28.19
This figure, with its hollow abdomen, is a product of the Teke, a people of the lower Kwango River region whose culture and art share fundamental features with those of neighboring Kongo. Power figures like this bear the name butti; like minkisi (the plural of nkisi, a type of object also on view here), they would contain sacred medicines and serve a protective function. This power figure is unconsecrated; it had its sacred material and potency removed, or it had not yet been consecrated before sold.
Culture: 
Teke
Period: 
20th century
Classification: 
Sculpture
Geography: 
Made in lower Kwango River, Central Africa, Republic of the Congo
Made in lower Kwango River, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Status: 
On view
Provenance: 

Dr. Ralph Linton, Sterling Professor of Anthropology at Yale, unknown date–1953
Mr. and Mrs. James M. Osborn donated to Yale University Art Gallery for the Linton Collection of African Art in 1954

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.