Ex-Belgian African art collection.
This African statue is used by different Luba societies, more generally by members of the Bambuye, Bakasandji, or Batambwe societies. The Mbudye soothsayers also used it. It was a question, individually or collectively, of consulting the spirits of the ancestors through specialists. The face has similarities with the Songye, a large head surmounting a neck extending a bust on which the hands are placed. The stepped hairstyle is typical of the Shankadi, a Luba subgroup. The lower body is concealed by a fabric attached and glued to the legs thanks to a crusty patina of use, slight abrasions of use.
According to P. Nooter, these figures, seated or kneeling depending on the case, also represented the diviner's wife, which underlines its importance in the process of bilumbu divination. According to some Lubas, however, although a woman, she would represent the first Luba diviner, and would also be an allegory of royalty linked to the powerful Mbudye society associated with royal power. ("Luba" Roberts.)
The Lubas (Baluba in Chiluba) are a people of Central Africa. Their cradle is Katanga, more precisely the region of the Lubu river, thus the name (Baluba, which means “the Lubas”). They were born from a secession of the Songhoy ethnic group, under the leadership of Ilunga Kalala who killed the old king Kongolo who has since been revered in the form of a python. In the 16th century they created a state, organized as a decentralized chiefdom, which stretched from the Kasai River to Lake Tanganyika. The chiefdoms cover a small territory without any real border which includes at most three villages.
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