Mashitolo mwata Zola
Africa | ISSUE 02
and the Sculpture of the "Wise Man"
by Deborah Dainese
While searching for Zola’s traces in the museum’s digital database, I noticed that the inventorying process was done according to collectors rather than artists. For example, in Zola’s case, information on the artist is to be found in folders bearing European names.
Carved in wood, the sculpture of the so-called “Wise Man of the Nativity Scene” depicts a male figure kneeling in the act of offering a small box and wearing a hat which recalls a mpu a nzim cap, used by Congolese chiefs to indicate social status. Registered in 1948 as part of the assemblage donated by the Belgian Jesuit Father Gustave Le Paige (1903-1980) to the AfricaMuseum (Tervuren, Belgium), the “Wise Man” provides the opportunity to shed light on its maker, the Congolese sculptor Mashitolo mwata Zola (1915-?). [...]Photo: Mashitolo mwata Zola, Sculpture of the “Wise Man,” 1943 Collection MRAC Tervuren (EO.1948.20.221) Photo J.-M. Vandyck CC-BY 4.0