Teke Butti Figure

Type: figure
Exhibits: Cycle of Life
Tribes: Teke peoples
Location: The Democratic Republic of Congo
Period: 20th Century
Materials: Cloth, Organic Matter, Red Pigment, Wood

The Teke carved wooden reliquary figures that have magical substance known as bonga or bilongo, applied to a cavity in their abdomen, which is the effective source of their mystical power. Once they are loaded with the bonga the figures are called butti. This statuette is known as Mutinu bmamba, for its cylindrical- shaped bonga and is used to assist women during pregnancy. Jan Vansina has noted that those persons who could not afford costly wooden figurative statues, honored and maintained contact with important ancestors through simpler version such as this, whose contents included often earth taken from burial sites of their ancestors and were wrapped within an animal pelt or cloth. Almost all these statuettes are treated by the nga, the Fetish-man, who carved many of them by himself. The butti are rarely female and usually represent male figure of authority, male ancestors or venerated chiefs .The red color of the fabric is a reference to the blood, the life force - to increase power, its mystical force (nyama). 

Teke Butti Figure
Teke Butti Figure
Teke Butti Figure
Teke Butti Figure