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Tribal art > African Statues > Statue Hemba

Figure of ancestor Hemba Singiti (N° 19251)

Ancestor figure embodying a local chief, a war chief, or a founder of lineage. A frontal diadem, carefully chiseled from a succession of bars, delineates the shaved skull of the ancestor. The sophisticated headdress ends at the back of the head in a cruciform element as in the Lubas, and a thin beard underlines the jaw. The stocky morphology, by the evocation of a certain vigour, shows the assurance of the established chief in an anchored posture. Usually made of iroko, these ritual sculptures were venerated by a particular clan and stored in funerary premises in the chief's house. Oiled black patina, locally matted. Cracks of desiccation, old break on an arm.
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 a definite influence on their culture, religion and art. The cult of the ancestors, whose effigies have long been attributed to the Luba, is central to the hemba society. Genealogy is indeed the guarantor of privileges and the distribution of land. All aspects of the community are impregnated by the authority of the ancestors. Thus, the ancestors are considered to have an influence on justice, medicine, law and sacrifices. The singiti statues were kept by the fumu mwalo and honoured in ceremonies during which sacrifices were offered to them. Alongside the authority of the hereditary chiefs, secret societies, male such as the bukazanzi and female such as the bukibilo, played a great role within the clan.  

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Originex-colllection E. Caldwell
EthnyHemba
Countryrdc ex zaire
Material(s)wood
Height45
Width11
Weight1.65 Kg
Estimated datingmid-xx°

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