African art > Stick of command, chieftaincy > Hemba Sceptre
Hemba Command Stick (N° 17325)
This scepter has different sculpted sections forming an iconographic language relating to the history of the ancestor or that of his clan, such as the kibangos of the Lubas. The dominant central subject, appearing in a round-bump above the janus head, represents a singiti. Dark brown satin patina. Erosions.
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The Hemba, established in southeastern Zaire, on the right bank of the Lualaba, have long been subject to the luba neighbour who had a definite influence on their culture, religion and art. The cult of ancestors, whose effigies have long been attributed to the Luba, is central to the society hemba. Genealogy is indeed the guarantor of the privileges and distribution of land. All aspects of the community are imbued with the authority of the ancestors. Thus, they are considered to have an influence on justice, medicine, law and sacrifices. The statues singiti were kept by the fumu mwalo and honoured during ceremonies during which sacrifices were offered to them. Parallel to the authority of the hereditary chiefs, secret societies, such as the bukazanzi, and female, the bukibilo, played a large role within the clan. (Source: Treasures of Africa, Tervuren Museum; The Tribal Art of Black Africa J.B. Bacquart Congo River, F.Neyt )