African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Hemba head
Hemba head (N° 21769)
This head, a fragment of a singiti statue sculpted by the bwana mutombo , offers a triangular face bordered by a thin beard. The realistic lines are masterfully crafted.
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Usually made in iroko, these objects were venerated by a particular clan and stored in funeral facilities in the chief's house.
Locally chipped grainy patina. Erosions and cracks.
Height on base: 43 cm.
The Hemba have long been subject to the neighboring Luba Empire which has had a definite influence on their culture, religion and art. The cult of ancestors is central in Hemba society. Genealogy is in fact the guarantor of privileges and the distribution of land. All aspects of the community are imbued with the authority of the ancestors. Thus, these are considered to have an influence on justice, medicine, law and sacrifices.
Mastering sculpture with skill, the Hemba have mostly produced statues of singiti ancestors, embodying chiefs, local warriors, or lineage ancestors whom they venerate in order to appease spirits mizimus . A wide variety of ritual objects, fetishes, ape masks, gourds, and others of daily use have made them famous.