This ivory sculpture comes from the region of central Africa, where the Kingdom of the Kongo was founded ca. 1400. In 1483 Portuguese explorers arrived, bringing their religion with them. In 1491 the Kongo king Nzinga aNkuwa converted to Christianity and was baptized as João I; his son and heir Afonso Mvemba a Nzinga later established Christianity as the state religion. Kongo artists began to work with the established iconography and artistic forms of the new faith. In this ivory Madonna sculpture, a rosary dangles from her elbow as a snake encircles her skirt. In the Kongo region of central Africa, religious works mingle Christian iconography with pre Christian indigenous religious beliefs.