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TO OCTOBER 19
Though it was a Greek who said that man is the measure of all things, the many tribes that inhabit the country once again called Congo seem to have come to the same conclusion. Almost all of this exhibit’s 125 pieces, mostly made of finely worked wood, are figurative. Whether sculpture of rulers, ancestors, and demons or ceremonial objects such as spears, cups, pipes, axes, and musical instruments, these exquisitely carved pieces honor the human face and form. Although there is one oracle in the shape of a dog, the region’s shamans (and artisans) apparently had little use for animals, preferring to invoke (and depict) the human (and the superhuman). On loan from Belgium’s century-old Tervuren Museum, these remarkable objects were initially acquired through colonization (although the Belgians have continued to collect since abandoning control of the Congo). Removing them from their place of origin, however, has not diminished their impact. At the Museum of African Art, 950 Independence Ave. SW. FREE. (202) 357-2700. (Mark Jenkins)