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Currently shown

Ofika Figure

Location

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO, NORTHERN REGION

Culture

Mbole

Title

Ofika Figure

Date

Early 20th c.

Materials

Wood, pigments

Dimensions

34 x 8 x 5.9 cm

Credits

Gift of Gerald Benjamin, inv. 2008.186

Collection

Archeology and World Cultures

Among the Mbole people, the Lilwa society fulfilled ritual, educational, judicial, social, political and economic functions. Among other things it regulated relations among the main lineages, supervised healing or divination rituals, and prescribed moral codes, such as the prohibition of adultery, lying and stealing. During their initiation, boys aged seven to twelve were circumcised, faced physical trials, and learned the society’s rules, as well as the essentials of its esoteric language. Ofika sculptures, which were only shown to initiates, depict individuals hanged for having revealed the society’s secrets or violated its precepts.

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