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Hemba Male Figure Singiti with Horn Congo African Art

$265.00
Product #: 91127
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Title Hemba Male Figure Singiti with Horn Congo African Art
Type of Object carving
Country of Origin DR Congo
People Hemba
Materials Wood, pigment
Approximate Age Second Half  20th Century
Dimensions 18.5 inches H. x 4.5 inches
Overall Condition Fair to good. Most of our pieces have spent decades on at least two continents, and have been treasured by several owners.   Small splits, scrapes and cracks are a normal part of their patina attesting to their age and extensive use.  We examine each piece carefully when we receive it and report any damage we find in our listings.  Please look carefully at the pictures which may also reveal condition and damage.
Damage/Repair cracked ear, shoulder, and torso. chips in places, shallow crack in chin , cracks with repair in hairstyle , in abdomen,


Additional Information: This figure of a standing male is carved of heavy and dense wood. It shows a traditional hairstyle with three chignons, the beard going up to ears, a prominent abdomen, arms along the body ,  and legs with bent knee stance. This figure comes from the Hemba and belongs to the  most common of the Hemba ancestor figures called "singiti".Exceptionally, the offered piece has a horn encrusted in the head, which means the figure  may have served not only as a commemorative ancestor figure but also as a power figure. 


Singiti figures come in different sizes (small, medium,ad large), usually male and in standing position with the hands along the navel, elaborate coiffure commonly cruciform, elongated or round face with serene expression. They were kept in special houses or in the house of the clan leader, "Fumu Mwalo". "Fumu Mwalo" would consult these ancestor figures, and also make offerings and sacrifices to them some important decision is to be made or every time the community needs ancestors help. The warm colored patina comes as a result of extended us through offerings and touching. Singiti figures serve as intercessors between the living and the dead and as effigies of ancestor to recognize lineage heads and document title to land. Singiti figures are not strictly considered to be portraits of particular individuals. They depict rank, social status and ethnic identity through stance, hair-style and dress.


Hemba number around 80,000 and live on the right bank of the Lualaba River west of Lake Tanganyika. They have been heavily influenced by their neighbors to the south, the Luba. Elements from the Luba are still present in the social and political organizations of the Hemba. The Hemba are divided into large clans headed by a hereditary leader known as the "Fumu Mwalo," who administers justice and watches over the ancestor figures. It is only in the last quarter century that their art has been identified as distinct from that of the Luba. Thus, many masterpieces in museums and famous collections have had to be reclassified.


Recommended Reading: Francois Neyt, LA GRANDE STATUAIRE HEMBA DU ZAIRE, Louvain-La-Neuve, 1977


I have examined this piece and agree with the description.


Niangi Batulukisi, PhD.