Ndungu leaves for Paris
26 March 2012
RAMM’s stunning ndungu spirit costume leaves today for an exhibition in Paris. It will appear in the exhibition Masters of Chaos from 3 April to 22 July at the Musée du quai Branly.
The ndungu was a spirit who had the authority to identify and punish people who had broken the rules in Kongo society. The two faces on the mask may suggest the spirit’s ability to see the world of the dead and the world of the living. The costume was collected in Central Africa in the late 19th Century by Richard E Dennett. A display in RAMM’s World Cultures gallery is currently devoted to objects he collected on the Congo coast. The display, Invisible Powers, runs until 12 August 2012.
The exhibition Masters of Chaos will focus on various forms of shamanism and the recurrent figure of the trickster. Most cultures or traditions represent conflicting powers as if they were fighting in an endless, but somehow necessary, struggle. Order never seems to control chaos and religious worldviews, myths and rites try to organize understanding of this struggle. This consciousness of disorder seems to be shared by humanity.
In many societies specialists are dedicated to dealing with the certain supernatural powers, conjuring up these disruptive forces and negotiating with them. They are called saman by the Evenks, angalkuq by the Inuits from Alaska, komian by the Senoufo, dehar by the kalash from Pakistan, heyoka by the Dakota siouxies, guru by the Bataks, mudang in Korea. Sacrificial union, ecstasy or trance, – real or feigned – are used as proof of their link with the other world. They are nearly universal and in this exhibition they are called the masters of chaos.
“Objects, costumes and masks from anthropological collections as well as from fine art museums will be presented alongside installations by contemporary artists, their work inspired by the theme of chaos.”
Nanette Jacomijn SNOEP, Responsable de l’unité patrimoniale – Collections Histoire, musée du quai Branly.