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  |  April 18, 2014

   Carved figure of Madonna by the Tabwa people
  Carved figure of Madonna by the Tabwa people


At first glance this delicately carved figure of the Madonna and child seems unsurprising, although radiantly beautiful. The Christ child is shown holding an orb representing the earth and symbolizing his own future as Salvator Mundi, or ‘Savior of the World.’ A remarkable aspect of this carving is that it comes from the deepest, darkest heart of Africa – the present day Republic of Congo.

Sometime in the fifteenth century, Portuguese explorers brought Christianity to the area inhabited by the native Tabwa people. Evangelization has never been easy, even for those with missionary zeal, but the Tabwa remain predominantly Christian to this day. Perhaps this is because European religious symbols did not seem foreign to them. The Madonna and child is uncannily similar to the traditional Tabwa maternity figure, which depicts a caring and devoted mother nurturing her child.

Carved figure of Madonna by the Tabwa people  
Christianity was introduced to the Tabwa people by the Portuguese in the 15th century

It is likely the carver who created this piece was influenced by traditional Tabwa sculpture as well as their own personal religious devotion. Whatever the influence or motivation, this piece was meant to convey a simple message – unconditional love can save the world. It is worth repeating at this time and all other times of the year!

Standing Figure of Madonna and Child
Tabwa people
Republic of Congo,
Central Africa
20th C.
Wood, based
3.5" W x 3.25" D x 12.5" H


Part of PRIMITIVE's much larger collection of Christian, religious and sacred art from around the world. For more information or to purchase contact a Client Advisor at 312-575-9600 or email


Part of a much larger collection of Christian and religious art available at PRIMITIVE
This Madonna figure is part of a much larger collection of rare and authentic Christian and religious art available at PRIMITIVE
Please contact a Client Advisor for more details, or to make an appointment call 1-312-575-9600
To view similar items from our collection -- Follow links for Madonna, Christian Art and Christ Figures

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is found—All cultures are the same, we just express ourselves differently - Glen Joffe, Owner

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