African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Hemba Statue
Ancestor figure Hemba Singiti (N° 14651)
This small Hemba protective figure, whose characteristics were once attributed to the Luba, embodies an ancestor. Made to communicate with the tutelary spirits, this sculpture was part of the "mvidye", intermediaries between the spiritual world and individuals, who could also embody nature spirits among the Luba of Kasai.
Hemba clan chiefs had several statues of ancestors that they venerated and to which they dedicated offerings in order to establish their legitimacy. This figure adopts the classical position, hands emphasizing a protruding abdomen, symbol of lineage. It also has a sophisticated headdress, hollowed out in the shape of a cross.
Dark brown piece whose projections are abraded by use. Satin surface.
The Luba (Baluba in Tchiluba) are a people of Central Africa, established in the southeast of the D.R.C., on plains surrounded by rivers. Their cradle is Katanga, more precisely the region of the Lubu River, thus the name (Baluba, which means "the Lubas"). They were born from a secession of the Songhoy ethnic group, under the leadership of Ilunga Kalala, who caused the death of the old king Kongolo, who has since been venerated in the form of a python. In the sixteenth century they created a state, organized in decentralized chieftaincies, which extended from the Kasai River to Lake Tanganyika. The chieftaincies cover a small territory with no real borders, and include no more than three villages.
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