This sculpture of African art hemba commemorating a local chief, intermediary between men and gods, stands out thanks to its imposing head and the treatment of the body.
Velvety grey-brown patina, erosions and cracks.
Generally made in iroko, these ritual sculptures were venerated by a particular clan and stored in rooms for funerary use in the chief's house.
The Hemba, established in the south-east of Zaire, on the right bank of the Lualaba, were for a long time subjected to the neighboring Luba empire, which had on their culture, their religion and their art a certain influence. Ancestor worship, whose effigies have long been attributed to the Luba, is central to Hemba society. Genealogy is indeed 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: "Treasures of Africa, Tervuren Museum; "Black African Tribal Art" J.B. Bacquart; "Congo River", F.Neyt)
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