This tribal art hemba sculpture commemorating a local chief, an intermediary between men and gods, stands out for its proportionately imposing head and haughty bearing. .
Grainy matte patina, erosions and cracks.
Usually made in iroko, these ritual sculptures were venerated by a particular clan and stored in rooms for funeral use in the chief's house.
The Hemba, established in the south-east of Zaire, on the right bank of the Lualaba, have long been subjected to the neighboring Luba empire which has had on their culture, their religion and their art a certain influence. The cult of ancestors, whose effigies have long been attributed to the Luba, 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.
The singiti statues were kept by the fumu mwalo and honored during ceremonies during which sacrifices were offered to them.
(Source: "Trésors d'Afrique, Musée de Tervuren;" The Tribal Art of Black Africa "J.B. Bacquart;" Congo River ", F. Neyt)
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