Zigua, Pare people, Tanzania, 1900-1950
Clay, fabric, resin
Length : 15 cm
Provenance : Private collection, Germany
Tribe diviners were believed to have the power to make medicine bundles (like the red cloth wrapping bound inside the belly of this animal), that gave their ‘possessors’ the ability to diagnose a patient’s illness. In serious cases, the diviner, patient, and the healing statue would travel together deep into the bush to offer libations to the statue, and to expel ghosts from the patient. Fetishes like the present one were historically placed in shrines and treated with great respect by the Zigua. The use of fetishes by the Zigua is in fact a vital part of daily village life. Typically, a “remote” object such as this fetish will be “activated” by a diviner with the insertion or application of fetish material or in the hole on the figure, and then used as a channel for the spirits, and thus an intermediary for change. This piece has evidence of age, handling, and encrustation from the passage of time and applied materials.
A physical analysis of the piece shows extensive signs of handling and age. The patina on this piece is characteristic of antique Zigua fetishes, with chipping surface pigment and shrine materials.
A very similar object is illustrated in Tanzania, by Felix, Marc & Maria Kecskesi (1994), Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin und die Stadtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munchern, p. 210 n°123.
The Gogo (singular: mgogo, plural: Wagogo) are a Bantu ethnic and linguistic group based in the Dodoma Region of central Tanzania. Their name was invented sometime in the 19th century by the Nyamwezi caravans passing through the area while it was still frontier territory.
Price : 1.200 euros