Luba Hemba Statue

Luba Hemba Statue. Statue depicting a male ancestor in a hieratic position. Wood with blond patina.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Wood H. 46.5 cm

Provenance : – Jacques Van Overstraeten, Brussels

– Damien Reeners, Brussels

– Cornette de Saint-Cyr, Paris, April 14, 2007, no. 54

– Collection Mme F.

The Luba people or Baluba are an Bantu ethno-linguistic group indigenous to the south-central region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The majority of them live in this country, residing mainly in Katanga, Kasaï, Kasaï-Oriental, Kasaï-Central, Lomami and Maniema. The Baluba consist of many sub-groups or clans.

The Baluba developed a society and culture by about the 400s CE, later developing a well-organised community in the Upemba Depression known as the Baluba in Katanga confederation. Luba society consisted of miners, smiths, woodworkers, potters, crafters, and people of various other professions. They found relative success over time, but this eventually caused their gradual decline with the Portuguese and Omani empires led or influenced invasions.

Art was well-developed in the Luba culture. Pottery, articles crafted from iron (such as axes, bows and spears), wooden staff and carvings and parts clad in sheets of copper were routinely produced. A notable artform of the Luba people was the Mwadi, where the male ancestors were represent in their female incarnations of the ancestral kings.

According to scholars such as Daniel Kabozi, some of the intricate art works of the Luba people were mnemonic devices, a form of symbolic coded script to aid preserving information and recalling the history and knowledge of the Luba.

The Luba people, according to Mary Roberts, developed “one [of] the most complex and brilliant mnemonic systems in Africa for recording royal history, king lists, migrations, initiation esoterica and family genealogies”, such as the Lukasa memory board. This artwork are now found in numerous museums of the world.

-From Wikipedia

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