The Mary Ruth Weisel Endowment for Africa, Oceania, and the Americasexpand_more 2017.28
The stone used for this sculpture is relatively soft, so the artist could carve it almost as easily as wood. The figure was placed outside to demarcate the land of a clan, embellish the grave of a chief, and celebrate the legacy of the past. It represents a chief, recognizable by his hat, which once displayed four leopard claws (now missing), and his pensive pose—known as fumani, or “thinker of sad things”—which symbolizes wisdom, thoughtfulness, and authority.
This sculpture is the first guardian figure to enter Mia’s African art collection. It is made of stone, a rarity in art from central Africa. This sculpture has great presence due to its size and its strong and clean lines; its bearing tells a compelling story about representations of leadership in African art.