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Hemba Memorial Male Ancestor Figure Congo African Art

Regular Price: $290.00

Special Price: $150.00

Product #: 100047
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Title Hemba Memorial Male Ancestor Figure Congo Africa
Type of Object Carving, Figure, Statue, Sculpture
Country of Origin Democratic Republic of Congo
People Hemba
Materials Wood, pigment.
Approximate Age 20th century
Dimensions 24.5 inches H. x 6.5 inches W. x 5.5 inches D.
Overall Condition 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 scraped and worn patina, small chips and cracks; see pictures for details.


Additional Information:  This figure of a male ancestor is carved of heavy and dense wood.  The figure has classic Hemba facial features, traditional cross hairstyle, beard going up to ears, and hands on the abdomen.  The surface shows evidence of  use.


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 socio-political organization 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. The most common of the Hemba ancestor figures are called "singitis". These figures can be up to 90cm high, 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 patination 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.


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