Central African power figures are among the ubiquitous genres identified with African art. Conceived to house specific mystical forces, they were collaborative creations of Kongo sculptors and ritual specialists. This example belongs to the most ambitious class of that tradition, attributed to the atelier of a master active along the coast of Congo and Angola at the end of the nineteenth century.
That power was represented as a presiding authority and enforcing lord or king. Its crowning element is the distinctive mpu headdress worn by chiefs or priests. The figure’s posture and gesture, leaning forward with hands placed akimbo on the hips, is the aggressive attitude of one who challenges fearlessly.