A pair of exceptional Suku statues, DR Congo 20th Century

Suku people

Just around 1900, Suku people were often referred to as “Yaka”, those people are attached to Kongo kingdom. The Suku live in the Kwango subregion of the Bandundu region, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Suku leadership was established by refugees from the Kwango river area, which, in the 17th century, was being conquered by Lunda invaders.

Our Suku figures. Nature dualism

An important couple of male and female figures standing with the same hairdressing, with the same black details. The shiny patina sparkles volumes. The female statue has her hand resting on the belly, while the man is holding his beard. Angular shapes in the faces and the bodies, coffe bean eyes, tringular nose, prominent mouth, both of them have a large neck, massive body on bent legs. The male figure has a more severe physical appearance, an intense presencewith his eyebrows and his arrow-shaped nose.

According to Albert Maesen, those figures are used together, male and female. They are protectors. Male figure is holding his beard. And his appeased face, because of the cosed eyes, is decorated by a sagittal line from the hair base to the end of the nose. At the hips, their is a little torsion, suggesting movement. MAle and female are nature dualism, Suku symbolism. Sometimes, those two forms are combined in a hermaphrodite figure.

Condition report
Excellent condition for these important old pieces.

Former Belgian collection


Coryse Mwape Dolin
Art Historian, African Arts

Marie-Louise Bastin.- Introduction aux Arts d’Afrique Noire. Arnouville, Arts d’Afrique Noire, 1984. p. 301-303
Daniel Biebuyck.- The Arts of Zaire. 2 vol. Berckeley, Los Angeles University Press, 1985.
Arthur P. Bourgeois.- The Yaka and the Suku. Inconography of religions VII, D, 1. Leiden, E. J. Brill, 1985.
Igor Kopytoff.- The Suku of Southwestern Congo, in James L. Gibbs (ed.), The peoples of Africa. p. 441-478. New York, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1988.
Tom Phillips (ed.)Africa. The Art of a continent. M├╝nich/New York, Prestel, 1995.

Map, T. Phillips 1995, 230.