the handle carved from Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibious) tooth.
The seated figure forming the handle of this flywhisk is shown wearing a European-style collared tunic, belt, and close-fitting cap, an attire adopted by Kongo leaders to signify power and prestige. Bassani (1988: 216) states: "Full costumes in a style fashionable in Europe in the 16th century continued to be portrayed in Kongo ivories long after the Portuguese had ceased to be a presence, and these styles were no longer worn in Europe. [...] Items of European clothing were probably gifts to African rulers, who no doubt preserved them as exotic curiosities."
The lead-inlaid wood shaft below is decorated with geometric patterns seen frequently in Kongo and Kuba textiles, relief decoration, and body scarification. For a photograph of such scarification see Neyt (2010: 312).
For a very closely related figure possibly by the same artist from the collection of René and Anne Vanderstraete, see Felix (2010: 140-141, fig. 170).
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