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Tribal art > Usual african items > Hemba Box

Hemba anthropomorphic box (N° 17735)

This lidded container depicts an ancestor, intermediate between men and gods, adopting a symbolic gesture, arms raised, one of the hands folded. A tiara engraved with lines delimits the shaved skull. The traditional sophisticated hairstyle, oiled and coated with red powder, then mounted on a raffia base, was organized at the back in cruciform element most often. The beard is associated with the wisdom and experience of the grandfather.
Generally made in iroko, these ritual sculptures were venerated by a particular clan and stored in funeral premises in the chief's house.
Patine golden brown oiled and velvety, very slight cracks. Erosions

The Hemba, established in southeastern Zaire, on the right bank of the Lualaba, have long been subject to the luba neighbour who had a definite influence on their culture, religion and art. The cult of ancestors, whose effigies have long been attributed to the Luba, is central to the society hemba. Genealogy is indeed the guarantor of the privileges and distribution of land. All aspects of the community are imbued with the authority of the ancestors. Thus, they are considered to have an influence on justice, medicine, law and sacrifices. The statues singiti were kept by the fumu mwalo and honoured during ceremonies during which sacrifices were offered to them. Parallel to the authority of the hereditary chiefs, secret societies, such as the bukazanzi, and female, the bukibilo, played a large role within the clan. (Source: Treasures of Africa, Tervuren Museum; The Tribal Art of Black Africa J.B. Bacquart Congo River, F.Neyt )  

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Originex-collection suisse
EthnyHemba
Countryrdc ex zaire
Material(s)wood
Height58
Width20
Weight3.15 Kg
Estimated datingmid-xx°

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