It is said to be a magic figure mvunzi, which protects humans against certain evil spirits.
The main diviner usually
posesses such mvunzi, who employs them in cases of sickness, for theft or for
This female figure was used by a traditional healer of the Tulamba
segment of Holo society to manipulate the supernatural power that was
his by right of first occupation of the land.
Such power figures, used for
healing, are called mvunzi, and the object represents the pole opposite of
the queen figure Holo dya Mukhetu in the system of oppositions of nature/
culture, magical/political power.
The squatting pose is ubiquitous in the
Kwango-Kwili Rivers area among such nearby peoples as the Yaka, Suku
& Chokwe. The heart-shaped face and convex, oval eyes are reminiscent
of the masks of peoples to the north, down the Kwango River, especially
Ex. McConnell collection
Depth: 5 1/2”