In 1956 Henri Goldstein was able to photograph this amazing group of ancestor figures among the Bahutshwe, one of the Boyo groups (also known as Buyu or Buye). These five statues were owned by chief Kimano II, who lived in the territory of Kabambare between the Lualaba River and Lake Tanganyika in southeastern Congo.
Each wooden statue was given the name of the ancestor it represented and each such figurative group reflected the internal lineage structure of the local group. In this case, the largest statue (second from the left) represented Abikili, the oldest of the ancestors celebrated by the five images.
Two years after this photo was taken all five figures were collected by Nicolas de Kun (who also wrote an article on the art of the Boyo in 1979). Not much later the group was dispersed.
So, where are these figures now? The statue on the left is currently in the collection of the Metropolitain Museum of Art in New York (info), it was donated to the museum by Sidney and Bernice Clyman in 1985.
The biggest figure, second from left, could be the figure in the The Menil Collection in Houston – unfortunately I only found a frontal picture of it.
The middle figure is in the Richard Scheller collection and currently on view at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco (info).
The second figure from the right is in private collection.
The figure on the right was sold by Sotheby’s in 1985 and currently in a private Belgian collection.
The current location of all five figures is thus known. If someone could bring them together for an exhibition, that would be a wonderful thing to do. A bit like the current exhibition at the MET, Warriors and Mothers: Epic Mbembe Art, which reunites the group of Mbembe figures first shown by Hélène Leloup in 1974 (info).