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Grave Marker (Tumba)

Arts of Africa

On View: Special Exhibitions, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
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.
MEDIUM Steatite, pigment
DATES 19th century
DIMENSIONS 23 × 6 × 6 in. (58.4 × 15.2 × 15.2 cm) mount: 23 × 8 × 4 1/2 in. (58.4 × 20.3 × 11.4 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
CREDIT LINE Museum Expedition 1922, Robert B. Woodward Memorial Fund
PROVENANCE 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.
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CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION 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.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Special Exhibitions, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
CAPTION Kongo (Boma subgroup). Grave Marker (Tumba), 19th century. Steatite, pigment, 23 × 6 × 6 in. (58.4 × 15.2 × 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)
IMAGE 22.1203_edited_version_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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