back bounded-next cafe calendar-large calendar cart close coat-check collapse donate download elevators expand explore filter grid-view hamburger heart hours join link list-view location mail more next nursing-room phone print programs ramp restrooms right-arrow search share shop thumbs-down thumbs-up tickets up toilet heart-filled zoom Skip to Content


African Art

Search and Share Tools


Artwork Details


Kongo Artist
Democratic Republic of the Congo


Late nineteenth to early twentieth century



Accession #



21 1/2 × 7 3/4 × 5 inches


On View - Stent Family Wing, Skyway, Gallery 401


This commemorative stone sculpture portrays a royal person in deep thought. Made 100 years ago or more, it comes from the region of the great Kingdom of the Kongo. The sculpture’s asymmetrical posture—with crossed legs and its palm to its cheek—is iconic. In Kongo culture, this gesture is associated with reflection and discretion, qualities associated with effective political leadership. The Kongo Kingdom, with the hilltop city of Mbanza Kongo as its capital and home of its king, located in what is now northern Angola, had flourished for several centuries before becoming known to Europeans. Between ca. 1300 and 1400, a federation of political entities to the north and south of the mouth of the Kongo River became united. Through conquest and political alliances they formed a centrally organized kingdom, divided into provinces ruled by governors—all under the king’s leadership.


Purchase through funds provided by patrons of Collectors Evening 2010