Grave Marker (Tumba)
Arts of Africa
The Kongo place stone figures called tumba on the graves of powerful people. This chief is shown smoking a pipe with his head averted as if in a state of contemplation. His cap (mpu) with four leopard’s teeth, the beaded necklace, and the bracelet (nlunga) identify the individual as a chief. The term tumba comes from the old Portuguese word for “tomb”—this genre may have been inspired by grave monuments for European merchants and missionaries in Kongo cemeteries.
23 x 6 x 6 in. (58.4 x 15.2 x 15.2 cm) (show scale)
Museum Expedition 1922, Robert B. Woodward Memorial Fund
Prior to 1922, provenance not yet documented; by 1922, acquired by François Poncelet of Brussels, Belgium; 1922, purchased in Brussels from François Poncelet by Stewart Culin for the Brooklyn Museum.
Male figure sitting cross-legged on rectangular base. Right hand rests on left knee; left hand holds short thick pipe to mouth. Head turns to left. Eyes black in color. Wears cap with leopard teeth, beaded bracelets, and a necklace. Condition is good.
This item is not on view
Kongo (Boma subgroup). Grave Marker (Tumba), 19th century. Steatite, pigment, 23 x 6 x 6 in. (58.4 x 15.2 x 15.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Expedition 1922, Robert B. Woodward Memorial Fund, 22.1203. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 22.1203_edited_version_SL1.jpg)
22.1203_edited_version_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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