However, two additional attributes render the Kunin figure exceptional. First, the coiffure terminating in two horn-like protrusions is exceedingly rare. Only one other example with similar hairstyle is known, see Lehuard (1996: 248, fig. 1.2.1). Second, while genitals are not represented the Kunin figure bears both male and female secondary sexual organs, including female breasts and a beard. For other hermaphroditic figures see one in the collection of Georg Baselitz and another previously in the collection of Baudoin de Grunne (both published in Lehuard 1996: 262-263, figs. 5.1.1. & 5.1.2).
LaGamma (2007: 304) notes: "In Teke society the ikwii, or shades of the death, warded off calamities perpetrated by witches. The father of a family invoked the ikwii of his father, mother, and sometimes his mother's brother on behalf of his own children and wives. A shrine to one's deceased family members featured reliquary figures of some of those individuals (buti) along with other items [...].
"Buti were named after and identified with the specific male ancestors whom they embodied. Generally those individuals were renowned chiefs or leaders whose presence assured the community's well-being. The sacred component of buti was composed of earth from the grave of the deceased, which was considered to contain traces of his corporeal being. [...] As the responsibility of individual family leaders, buti were kept within their owners' home. Those of a village leader afforded to benefits to the community at large. It appears that, on the death of its owner, a buti was often buried with him along with all his other belongings."
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