Africa Direct
Africa Direct

Buyu (Babuye, Babuyu, Basikasingo, Boyo)

Location: Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo
Population: Unknown

Arts: The arts of the Buyu have become known to scholars only in the last twenty years. Their primary output are ancestor figures, though one of their sub-groups, the Sikasingo, have produced some fine masks, identified by a triangular border on the face and beard . Precise scarification, square shoulders, and a fierce expression are hallmarks of their statuary, making it very popular with collectors. The Buyu live between the Lualaba River and the northwestern banks of Lake Tanganyika. They have been heavily influenced by larger groups who have dominated them over the years, but the uniqueness of their ancestor figures sets them apart from their more famous western neighbors, the Luba and Hemba. One can also see Tabwa influences. Buyu pieces sometimes appear somewhat rough and hurried, but they can also be meticulously done, full of drama, power, and beauty.

History: Little is known about Buyu history. The area in which the Buyu now live, near the northern end of Lake Tanganyika, is a diverse mix of cultures, including the Holo, Lega, and Bembe. The population of the Buyu has declined significantly during the last century due to domination by the intrusive, land-hungry Bembe. Additionally, the unchecked civil strife in the area has caused many to flee and assimilate. Despite historical obscurities, their sculpture is now documented and much-appreciated. You can find some beautiful examples in ART OF AFRICA, by Kerchache.

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