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, Pigment, Thread, Two Wooden Sticks, Wood

The Teke make butti figures of great mystical power, once it is loaded in its cavity with the bonga (or bilingo), the magical substance. All the bonga, each with its special formula confer on the butti its particular mystical power by means of ancestor participation. The clay taken from burial sites of the ancestors, or white chalk – symbolizing the white bones of the ancestors – are the most appreciated ingredients in the bonga substance, The red cloth is painted with camwood or Tula powder, from the local tropical forest, which increased the power of mystical force, for the Tula is a substitute for blood, the life force. This statuette – Matomba is carrying a barrel-shaped bonga has apotropaic function, to cast away harmful forces such as diseases or curses. According to Hottot if a man has misfortunes, he knows that another person has by sorcery overpowered the bongo of his butti. The nga is called immediately to restore the power of his butti, by conferring on it a stronger power sufficient to overcome the magic of sorcery cast on his butti. Among the methods is beating the butti with mid rib of Elaeis palm leaf so that the evil spell is taken by surprise at the renewed power of the bonga, fights and leaves screaming. This tree for the Teke, has magic-religious uses for protection, for example, a pregnant woman sticks two Elaeis branches into the roof of her hut for protection. This butti probably with the two sticks, ensure pregnancy, good birth and healthy child with the ancestors' assistance (J. B. Bacquart, The Tribal arts of Africa, 1998:132,237; Robert Hottot and Frank Willet, Teke Fetishes, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 1956:25-36).


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