Songye adze handle


African art and Songye everyday objects from the DRC

A wooden handle for an adze made by the Songye people. he handle is smoothly carved and turns at a right angle half way along and expands in form to the end. To the upper end is carved a head which displays the typical Songye forms. the head is relatively flat and follows the shape of the large, almond shaped eyes that are half closed. The nose is short with flared nostrils and the chin projects forward in a square shaped beard with open, square shaped mouth. 

Like many animist societies, the Songye believe that everything contains a soul, not only the animals and natural features, but also everyday objects, such as tools, as displayed in this adze handle. The adzes are used by the Songye carvers to make masks, figures and containers, and are thus considered just as important as the object that they are creating. Through this specialisation of implements power is transferred during the creation of items, such as masks. These items are also considered as special regalia of chiefs and are carried by them on special occasions.  

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Data sheet

Presumed dating
Mid XXth century
33,5 cm
Ethnic group
Songye / Basongye
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Tribal art collection Belgium