Now available again as a reprint of the French original, as well as in a new English version.

Fascinating in form and phenomenal in beauty, Songye statuary is invested with a force unequalled in Central Africa. The Songye, a tribal people located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, are best known for their distinctive statues and masks, which for centuries have been used to protect villages, ward off enemies and bring fertility and wealth. Considered to be imbued with magical energy and used only by village shamans, these statues have enormous cultural and historical significance and are also powerful works of art in their own right.

In this volume, almost one thousand figures and statuettes have been meticulously gathered together and examined morphologically, stylistically and historically. François Neyt, a leading specialist in Central African art, reveals the impressive identity of this vibrant collection.

This book is a valuable reference for art historians and collectors alike.

François NEYT, a Benedictine monk at the monastery of Saint-André, Ottignies (Belgium), was born in Likasi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where he spent his childhood and adolescence. After gaining his PhD in humanities from the Catholic University of Louvain with a thesis on the Christian Orient, he went back to Africa from 1968 to 1972 to teach African arts, first at the Official University of the Congo and then at the National University of Zaire. He also collaborated with the National Museum Institute of Zaire.

After his return to Europe, he carried out a number of projects on the Ivory Coast and in Mali and Nigeria. In Zaire he researched Hemba and Luba culture and was visiting professor at Lubumbashi. In 1980 he succeeded Albert Maesen in the archaeology and history of art department at Louvain-la-Neuve. During Brazils 500th anniversary celebrations, he was appointed curator of Afro-Brazilian arts at Sao Paulo.

Dr Neyt is President of the Alliance Inter-Monastères and a member of Belgiums Académie Royale des Sciences d’Outre-Mer and other learned institutions. He has published a variety of books and papers on the arts of Black Africa, including: ‘La grande statuaire hemba du Zaïre’, 1977; ‘Arts traditionnels et histoire au Zaïre’, 1980; ‘L’art eket’, 1979; ‘Les arts de la Benue aux racines des traditions’, 1985; ‘Luba aux sources du Zaïre’, 1994.