Lot: 242

102nd Auction

Head sculpture of the snake cult

D. R. Congo, Kuyu

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
American Private Collection H: 11.8 inch 3000 EUR
plus 27 % commission, VAT, transport and insurance

wood, colour pigments, base

The Kuyu "dyo" (snake god) ceremonies show performances alternated between mimed sequences and dances. Different actors appear one after the other. Among them are the "eouya" (the "snakemen") and the primordial couple ("djokou", the father and "ebotita", the mother). At the end of the performance, the chief initatior reveals "ebongo", father of the "eouya".

According to Bénézech, "eouyas" dance is called "kébé-kébé" by the Western Kuyu. The performance marks the end of the boys' initiation.

Head sculptures, such as this one, were attached to staffs, which the dancers held with stretched out arms high above their heads, while their bodies were entirely concealed by raffia-cloth robes referred to as snakeskin.

Bénézech, Anne-Marie, "So-called Kuyu Carvings", in African Arts, Vol.XXII, no.1, 1988, p. 52 ff.