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Hemba Memorial Figure Congo African Art

Regular Price: $490.00

Special Price: $175.00

Product #: 75954
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Title Hemba Memorial Figure Carrying Staff and Container DR Congo African
Type of Object Memorial Figure, Standing chief.
Country of Origin Democratic Republic of Congo.
People Hemba
Materials Wood, pigment.
Approximate Age second half twentieth century.
Dimensions Height: 24.75 Inches
Width: 9 Inches
Overall Condition Good
Damage/Repair worn patina, scrapes, shallow cracks, and chips; a small hole in hairstyle


Additional Information: A strong standing male figure with a high stylized hairstyle, and carrying carved container-like in one hand and a staff  in the ther hand.   This is a classic Hemba figure with its proud and elegant facial features, its large chignon, and strong and powerful body. This piece belongs to the category of  ancestor or commemorative figures,Singiti, which are the most important sculptural production of the Hemba and central visual pieces supporting their believe and religion.


The Hemba inhabit an area of hilly savannas along the east bank of the Zaire River, just to the north of their larger neighbors the Luba. The arts of the two cultures have often been confused, but during the last 30 years a scholastic distinction between them has emerged. The veneration of ancestors is vital to the social lives of the Hemba, and they excel in the creation of male statues known as singiti. These sacred statues are housed in their own special huts, and carefully guarded by chiefs and elders. Their worship not only insures the legacy of the ancestor, but validates the power of the chief who owns it. The more statues he owns, the more respect he commands. According to Cornet, "The masterpieces of the Hemba style may be grouped with the greatest works of traditional African art." See A SURVEY OF ZAIREAN ART: THE BRONSON COLLECTION.The modern-day Hemba moved into their current location along the Lualaba River from the east during the 18th century, though there is evidence of their presence in the region as early as the 16th century. They initially migrated into the Congo from what is today Tanzania. Particularly for the Hemba living in the southern portions of their territory, they became increasingly dominated by the vast Luba Empire, which had been established for centuries. The influence of the Luba was all-inclusive, and affected not only the social and ritual lives of the Hemba, but also the style and forms of art that they produced. Later, in the 19th century, the region was infiltrated by Arabs as well as colonial explorers from Belgium, who established a vast colony known as the Belgian Congo.


Recommended Reading:


Francois Neyt, La Grande Statuaire Hemba du Zaire


I have examined this piece and agree with the description


Niangi Batulukisi, Ph.D.