Featured Ivory Crucifix from the Kongo?

Discussion in 'Tribal Art' started by Thomas Johnson, Jun 19, 2019.

  1. Thomas Johnson

    Thomas Johnson New Member

    Hi, I was wondering if anyone can confirm that this is a Crucifix from the Kongo? quite a specialist area, hoping someone might know. It appears to be ivory, very old and worn.

    It might be from the Kongo, due to the naive workmanship, and the material it looks to be made from. Also the seemingly non stigmatisation of the christ character..?
    Another reason is I found this:
    the spiral as being the basic symbol of the system of signs used in the Kongo religion, the Bukongo, to convey spiritual teachings as well as to help the initiates recall what they have been taught. This symbol is shown to be the summary of the teachings of the Bukongo; it explains the celestial origin and destiny of man, the divine completeness of being (the Verb) and universal salvation. The spiral simplified at the most results in the Kongo cosmogram; thus, this article shows that beyond its current cosmological interpretation, the Kongo cross is the synthesis of an African theology. The author also exposes the existence of the spiral in other African cultures in connection with the origin of mankind.

    Also I found this which seems to fit: (a description of another Kongo crusafix, not pictured - from the MET museum)
    The Kongo cross, like earlier related works, is based on European prototypes. Earlier Kongo renditions of this subject depict Christ with naturalistically modeled arms, legs, and torso that emphasize musculature. Additionally, his face is rendered in the throes of an arduous death. However, later examples of this style suggest a more profound assimilation of the cross with local idioms.

    facial features have been reduced to stylized abbreviations that are less detailed in their descriptiveness. The wrap and ribs are rendered as simplified to geometric linear abstractions. Christ is depicted with large protruding oval eyes, a common motif in Kongo art representing the supernatural vision of a human who is possessed by an ancestor or deity.

    Christ is certainly depicted in the throws of a horrific death, much like Munch's "the scream"scream" - It is certainly very old due to the wear, the "weathering" of the engravings must have taken a long time to wear down...

    I say it might be from the 16th -17th century because it is more similar to the european model that the earlier depictions, based on a similar looking figure with a similar facial expression and body shape, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art

    Attached Files:

  2. Any Jewelry

    Any Jewelry Well-Known Member

    Welcome Thomas.
    I am impressed by the amount of research you've done. Unfortunately this is a resin crucifix made to look like bone or ivory, and it is not from Congo.

    These are typical Bakongo:
    19thc-christian-crucifix-bakongo_1_bdee163a0efc11dd90a73bbcc3bd9760 (480x640).jpg
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2019
  3. Houseful

    Houseful Well-Known Member

    I agree with AJ, I can see resin bubble holes.
  4. Any Jewelry

    Any Jewelry Well-Known Member

    Just so you know what to look for next time, there are several burst bubbles in this part, the big dark one is most conspicuous:

    The detail is of the side of the loincloth, this is the original photo:
  5. komokwa

    komokwa The Truth is out there...!


    judy likes this.
  6. Thomas Johnson

    Thomas Johnson New Member

    Thanks for the help identifying it guys... thought I had a piece of ancient history...!
  7. Thomas Johnson

    Thomas Johnson New Member

    Could it be bone? which also has pores?
    judy likes this.
  8. Any Jewelry

    Any Jewelry Well-Known Member

    The pores on bone are tiny, much smaller than these burst bubbles. They are the ends of tiny blood vessels and usually visible as groups of tiny black spots.

    The 'wear' and antiqueing on this crucifix are typical of cast resin pieces.
    kyratango and judy like this.
  9. Thomas Johnson

    Thomas Johnson New Member

    ok thanks got it..!
    kyratango and Any Jewelry like this.
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