Seated male figure (ntadi)

Kongo peoples, Mboma group
late 19th or early 20th century
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General Description

Mintadi (sing. ntadi) funerary figures were carved in soft gray steatite (soapstone) as well as wood and placed on graves or in memorial houses in Mboma cemeteries, where survivors could consult them. This ntadi portrays a chief. He wears the insignia of office—a knotted pineapple fiber headdress (mpu) crowned with leopard claws—and is further distinguished by a hairstyle that encircles the ears. The figure is posed in a parallel-legs position (fumani) with one arm leaning on his knee and supporting his head while the other hand rests on his hip. This gesture, called kiyadi, expresses sadness as well as caring and competence and is the position in which Mboma chiefs were buried.

Adapted from

  • Roslyn A. Walker, The Arts of Africa at the Dallas Museum of Art (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009), 210-211.
  • Roslyn A. Walker, Label text, Arts of Africa, 2015.