African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Hemba statue
Hemba statue (N° 20168)
This Hemba sculpture commemorating a local chief, an intermediary between men and the gods, stands out by its physiognomy and its attitude, which shows a certain serenity.
A diadem composed of a succession of bars delimits the largely shaven head. A sophisticated headdress ends at the back of the head in a cruciform element. The face is embellished with a fine crenellated beard, evoking the wisdom and experience of the forefather.
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Usually made of iroko, these ritual sculptures were venerated by a particular clan and stored in a burial space in the chief's house.
Dull grayish brown patina. Desiccation cracks, and numerous erosions.
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: "Treasures of Africa, Museum of Tervuren; "Tribal Art of Black Africa" J.B. Bacquart; "Congo River", F.Neyt )
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|Country||rdc ex zaire|
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