Kigango (plural: vigango) is a carved wooden memorial statue erected by the Mijikenda peoples of the southeastern Kenya coast. The vigango, which can be stylized, abstracted human-form effigies and are placed vertically rising out of the earth, honor a dead member of the secret Gohu society, or the "Society of the Blessed".
They were traditionally allowed to stand until they naturally decomposed, or they were abandoned and replaced at subsequent village locations by a second generation figure known as a kibao (plural: vibao), thereby transferring away whatever spiritual power was thought to remain from the original kigango. This was a natural result of the Mijikenda's centuries old practice of slash and burn agriculture and, subsequently, the periodic changing of village locations.
The hard-wood kigango is approximately life-size and may have been painted. Numerous vigango are now in U.S. museums, although some were discovered to have been stolen and were returned to Kenya. However, vigango were openly and legally for sale from reputable art galleries and curio shops in Kenya from the early 1970s until at least the mid-1990s. Anthropologist Monica Udvardy of the University of Kentucky has been particularly active in writing about theft of vigango and their repatriation from US and European museums.
- Reyman, Jonathan E., 2008, "The Long Journey Home of Kalume Mwakiru'sVigango", The Living Museum 69 (4): 3-7.
- Wolfe, III, Ernie (1986). Vigango: Commemorative Sculpture of the Mijikenda of Kenya. Williamstown, Massachusetts: Williams College Museum of Art. p. 54. ISBN 9780913697023.
- Reyman, Jonathan E., 2008, "The Long Journey Home of Kalume Mwakiru'sVigango", The Living Museum 69 (4): 7.
- Wolfe, III, Ernie (1979). An Introduction to the Arts of Kenya. Washington, D.C.: Museum of African Art: Smithsonian Institution. p. 25. ISBN 0-9603660-0-8.
- Parkin, David (16 March 2006). The Sacred Void: Spatial Images of Work and Ritual Among the Giriama of Kenya. Cambridge University Press. pp. 209–. ISBN 978-0-521-02498-3.
- "Cultural Survival". Archived from the original on 2006-05-28. Retrieved 2008-06-06.
- The Transatlantic Trade in African Ancestors: Mijikenda Memorial Statues (Vigango) and the Ethics of Collecting and Curating Non‐Western Cultural Property
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