By Victoria Rovine
University of Florida (formerly University of Iowa)

Democratic Republic of the Congo; Songye (Nsapo-Beneki) peoples



H.  13.6 cm (6")

University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art, The Stanley Collection, X1986.558

This Songye headrest incorporates a male caryatid figure whose solid, powerful body supports the sleeping surface. In an ingenious innovation, the figure's feet are enlarged and flattened to meld with the base of the headrest. Because headrests nearly identical to this one can be found in museum collections in Dallas, Detroit, and in several European collections, art historians assume that all of these objects are the work of a single artist, whom they have named the “Master of Beneki” (Beneki is a Songye subgroup in the region where this artist worked.) (Roy 1992: 167).