This fine ancestral post comprises a tall, multiple-ringed column shaped marker, carved from a hard iron wood, with a beautiful weathered, worn and bleached surface. The rings are rounded and geometric in form, and the stele is surmounted by the thick-necked stylised head of a male. Rather unusually, the male wears a colonial-era pith helmet as a symbol of importance, and his facial features, which have faded as a result of weathering over time, can still be clearly delineated.
The Bongo are one of several closely affiliated groups (Bongo, Belanda, Sara) that moved from Chad in the sixteenth century to the grasslands of southern Sudan. In Bongo culture, large anthropomorphic pole-like sculptures such as this recognized and honoured deceased male elites, hunters, warriors, chiefs or locally significant individuals. In some cases, the heads on top of the poles refer to the people slain by Bongo hunters.
Estimated Period: First Quarter of 20th Century
Ex Private Collection, UK
H (Excl. Stand): 135cm
Tom Phillips (Ed.) Africa: The Art of a Continent, Royal Academy of Arts (1995-1996) pp. 137-138
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