The Bidjogo occupy a mere twenty or so islands in the Bissogos Islands. A council of elders would direct the village’s temporal affairs, while spiritual aspects were in the hand of priests. The king would also have a say over some religious matters, thus reducing the powers of priests. The predominant force in Bidjogo ceremonial life surrounds the initiation of young men and the veneration of ancestors. These types of figures are conserved in the sanctuary and belong to the chief of the clan or king. Once charged with sacred substances, they become effective. A spirit figure on a round, partially corroded base, simple torso with square shoulders, long ridged neck supporting an oval head with a flat face and long nose, red and black pigment.
H: 39 cm (approx. 1’ 3”)
Estimated age: 19th century
Similar piece: Christie’s Tribal Art Auction, New York, November 11, 1993
Compare: “African Faces, African Figures” Arman Collection; Christie’s Tribal Art Auction, November 11, 1993,
Property of M. W. Shapiro, Lot 1
Provenance: Formerly part of a French collection; Austrian private collection