African art > Statues > Statue Hemba

Ancestor statue Singiti Hemba Niembo (N° 13859)

Ex-French African art collection.
A profile with sharp angles, this figure of ancestor, intermediate between men and gods, stands out for its alt-like attitude and its camped position showing calm and stability. The shaved head is bounded by a frontal tiara consisting of a succession of bars. A sophisticated headdress ends at the back of the head in a cruciform element. The face is decorated with a crenellated V-beard, evoking the wisdom and experience of the forefather. . Usually made in iroko, these ritual sculptures were venerated by a particular clan and stored in burial rooms in the chief's house. Oiled dark brown patina, locally matted. Desication cracks, powdery residues of red ochre bark on the base.
The Hemba, based in southeastern Zaire, on the right bank of the Lualaba, have long been subject to the empire 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 privileges and the distribution of land. All aspects of the community are imbued with the authority of ancestors. Thus, they are considered to have an influence on justice, medicine, law and sacrifice. The statues singiti were kept by the fumu mwalo and honoured in ceremonies during which sacrifices were offered to them. Parallel to the authority of hereditary chiefs, secret, male societies such as the bukazanzi , and women, the bukibilo , played a big role within the clan.
(Source: ", African Treasures, Tervuren Museum; "The Tribal Art of Black Africa" J.B. Bacquart; "Fleuve Congo", F.Neyt )  

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Originex-collection française
EthnyHemba
Countryrdc ex zaire
Material(s)wood
Height80
Width30
Weight7.40 Kg
Estimated datingmid-xx°

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