African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Hemba statue

Hemba Singiti statue (N° 20787)

A local chief's effigy believed to facilitate contact with tutelary spirits, the African statuette Hemba, opposite, was originally attributed to the Luba. Hemba clan leaders had several ancestor statues that they venerated, and to which they dedicated offerings in order to establish their legitimacy. The attitude is classical, hands resting on a protruding abdomen, symbol of lineage. The cruciform headdress is delimited by a wide sculpted band like the beard. Light brown patina with ochre residue. Desiccation cracks. The Hemba, established in southeastern Zaire on the right bank of the Lualaba River, were for a long time subject to the neighboring Luba empire, which had a definite influence on their culture, religion and art. Ancestor worship, whose effigies have long been attributed to the Luba, is central to hemba society. Genealogy is indeed the guarantor of privileges and land distribution. All aspects of the community are permeated by the authority of the ancestors. Thus, these are considered to have influence on justice, medicine, law and sacrifice. The singiti statues were kept by the fumu mwalo and honored in ceremonies during which sacrifices were offered to them. Alongside the authority of the hereditary chiefs, secret societies, male such as the bukazanzi , and female, the bukibilo ,played a great role within the clan.
(Source: "Trésors d'Afrique, Musée de Tervuren; "L'Art tribal d'Afrique noire" J.B. Bacquart; "Fleuve Congo", F.Neyt)  

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OriginEx-collection allemande
EthnyHemba
Countryrdc ex zaire
Material(s)wood
Height41
Width11
Weight1.30 Kg
Estimated datingmid-xx°

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