African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Lwena figure
Lwena figure (N° 23248)
This Chokwe or Lwena statuette, associated with the Hamba type therapeutic cult, embodies a female ancestor. These figures were arranged around the muyombo altar, a tree at the foot of which sacrifices and offerings were once made. Sculptures made in sticks or poles (Mbunji or mbanji) planted in the ground were also associated with it. The related ethnic groups had this same type of altar, a witness before which rituals, oaths and important transactions were concluded.
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Beautiful abraded dark brown patina, desication cracks.
Of Lunda origin, the Lwena emigrated from Angola to Zaire in the 19th century, repulsed by the Chokwe. When some became slave traders, others, the Lovale, found refuge in Zambia. Their society is matrilineal, exogamous and polygamous. The Lwena became known for their mainly honey-coloured sculptures, embodying figures of deceased ancestors and chiefs, and their masks linked to the initiation rites of the mukanda.
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