Azande Protective Figure Congo
The Zande (Azande) people populate a vast area stretching across the north of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic and South central Africa. They developed a kingdom based on a royal clan, the Vungara, and absorbed foreign populations through their well-organized army that conquered new territories, making them a heterogeneous group. The nobles of the Zande court turned to Mangbetu craftsmen for many prestige items, while Zande artists themselves made the small roughly finished human and animal figures (Yanda) used by an ancestral, religious secret society called Mani. These small, highly abstract protective figures are called Yanda figures.
Through magical meands, Mani Yanda are intended to protect their owners from illness, infertility, witchcraft, and harm as well as securing luck in hunting, health, wealth, and prosperity. These charming figures take their color from the magical application of roots, plants, bark and seeds called Libele by the Azande. Local scarification patterns worn by the people are also carved onto the face and thighs and genitals of the figure. These highly abstracted figures are today not common as most were thought to be made during the first third of the 20th Century.