African art > Maternity, statues, bronze, wood > Chokwe statue
Chokwe, Luvale maternity statue (N° 20834)
A statue associated with the Hamba type of therapeutic cult, this Chokwe or Lwena sculpture embodies a female ancestor believed to guarantee fertility or healing. These figures were arranged around the muyombo altar, a tree at the base of which sacrifices and offerings were once performed. Related ethnic groups had this same type of altar, a witness before which rituals, oaths and important transactions were concluded.
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The figure would also depict the second wife of the mythical chief Chibinda Ilunga
Smooth mahogany gilt plate. Localized cracks at the base.
Peacefully settled in eastern Angola until the 16th century, the Chokwe were then subjected to the Lunda empire from which they inherited a new hierarchical system and the sacredness of power. The Chokwe did not have a centralized power but rather large chiefdoms. It was these chieftainships that attracted artists who wished to put their skills at the exclusive service of the court. The artists created so many varied pieces of such quality that the Lunda court only employed them.Source: "Chokwe", B. Wastiau
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