Holo Miniature Male Figure with Raised Arms Congo 8.5 Inch
This strangely carved figure with a hole carved in its chest to receive offerings or magical substances shares a number of possible stylistic sources with possible association to the Holo people. It must be also kept in mind that Holo sculpture takes much from its Yaka and Suku and Chokwe neighbors. This is seen in the details and style of carving as in this carved male figure with upraised arms. The stance and facial shaping argue a possible source among the Holo.
The Holo are a smaller grouping of people numbering between 6-10,000 living in close proximity to the Yaka, Suku, Chokwe and Pende people. Coming from Angola sometime during the 16-17th centuries they are now settled along the banks of the Kwango River. What we know of their art often dates itself to a mid-1950's messianic cult rising during which much of their ritual sculpture was destroyed. Therefore objects either pre-date this event or were hidden during the destruction that took place. Holo had other works and objects such as slit drums, framed figures (nzambi), masks and ironwork that were related to royal elites. At best the character of the piece will stand as a challenge to place among a single people and yet it has it's own simple sculptural charm as well as magical potential in the cavity to hold substances.
Figures like this were used in the cult Mahamba associated with healing, fertility, and protection. The hole in its chest served to receive magical substances that empowered the figure.
Approximate Age: 20th Century