The function of the grave posts of the Bongo and Belanda have been discussed in the note following the previous lot. Kronenberg (A. & W., 'Wood Carvings in the Southwestern Sudan' Kush, Vol.8, Khartoum, 1960, pp.275-281) observes that the female figures were placed on the graves of mothers of famous hunters and warriors. Krüger (K.-J. 'Funerary Sculpture of the Bongo and Belanda', Tribal Arts, Winter/Spring 1999.2000, pp.82-101) adds that they could also be found on the graves of the wives of famous hunters and warriors for whom the family had given feasts. Kronenberg illustrates a female figure that was found in the Bviri area of the Belanda (fig.38, 39), and another with a similar coiffure to the present example found among the Belanda near Muruko, (Pl.XLVIII), a trait shared by a third female figure in the Francesco Pellizi collection, New York, collected by Duponcheel from the Bongo near Wau (Krüger, p.94,fig.20).
The subtle treatment of the surfaces makes the sensitivity of the carving of the present figure remarkable. The arms have been charred by bush fires, as have those of the male figure in the previous lot.