Kuba Ndop Seated Figure Congo
"Ndop (meaning 'statue') figures are idealised and stylised depictions of deceased Kuba Bushoong leaders (Nyim). Opinions vary about the actual use of the figures. Some sources state that the figures were carved during the reign of each Nyim and served as the king's 'double' during his absence. The ndop figures were believed to be kept in the chambers with his wives who took take of it as it if it were the king himself; the figure in return provided fertility. When the ruling king was close to death, his ndop was brought to his bed to absorb his soul and vital force. Other sources state that the ndop was only carved after the death of the Nyim and thus encapsulated the deceased king's soul. The new Nyim slept in isolation with the deceased king's ndop to absorb the essence from his predecessor's ndop.
What is generally agreed however is that ndop figures are not exact representations of leaders past but are instead depictions of kingship. Each individual king's ndop is distinguished only by his royal emblem at the front of the figure. The figures were used to remind villagers about the power of the king and to welcome the newly crowned Nyim into the community. It is believed that Nyim Shyaam aMbul aNgoong introduced the practice of carving ndop figures in 1650 (he was titled Ngol be Nyim meaning 'eldest of the kings')." (imodara.com)
In the 16th century, the Kuba peoples migrated from the distant north to their current location along the Sankuru River. When they arrived, however, they found that the Twa already lived there. The Twa were eventually absorbed into the Kuba Kingdom, but retained some independent cultural characteristics. The height of the Kingdom was during the mid-19th century. Europeans first reached the area in 1884, but the Kuba, being relatively isolated, were not as affected by the slave trade as many of the other peoples in the area. The Nsapo invaded during the late 19th century, and the Kingdom was broken up to a large extent.
Approximate Age: 20th Century