SALE END DATE AND TIME
July 31, 2016 : SALE CLOSED
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|Bene Lulua, Democratic Republic of Congo|
Historically, the Bene Lulua carve figures of deities and ancestors such as this wonderfully rich example for use in personal and community shrines. They also carve amulets and charms for the same reasons, and many of these carvings have roles related to healing and preventing illness. While they were most likely used for the aforementioned purposes, these “tools” (for lack of a better term) may also have been a tool of a diviner or other personal shrine object, such as used as part of a “phuungu” figure, which served as “receptacles” of protective magical power that were used by Bene Lulua diviners to protect against illness, to avenge sorcery, and for supernatural assistance in hunting. This very special petite piece may represent a maternity figure, it could also represent an initiated figure carrying an uninitiated figure; the actual use is unknown. It has a dynamic, post-modernist design, despite being approximately a century old. It is also thought that figures of this type may have been part of the cult known as bwanga bwa cibola, a name that refers to its objective of alleviating sorrow and misfortune by boosting fertility, preventing miscarriage, and safeguarding newborns. This is achieved through a strict regimen requiring that the patient follow a prescribed set of rules, most of which regulate diet and behavior. Although the Luluwa direct their prayers toward a Supreme Being, Mfidi Mukulu, it is the ancestors (bakishi) who respond to them and intercede when those prayers are accompanied by offerings. Among the delicate operations the fertility specialist performs is to reincarnate a deceased ancestor in the newborn child. To accomplish this goal, he monitors the mother's lifestyle and prescribes protective "medicine," which she wears on her person and places in her home. In the case of infertility "medicines," a wooden figure (lupingu) may serve this function. There are two varieties of these representations: small, rudimentary ones and larger, more highly refined works, such as the present example. "Medicines" are both inserted into cavities within the figure's body and contained in attachments that are tied to it. It is probable that Lulua women each owned two figural artifacts, one of which always remained at home, while the other was carried suspended from a belt or around the neck. These figures were anointed with libations and applications of red clay, palm oil, and camwood powder. It is believed that once the goals of the initiation were successfully fulfilled, all ritual paraphernalia, including the wood figures, were destroyed. (Source: University of Iowa African Peoples, Christopher Roy). It is possible that a Lulua woman may have once owned this figure and used it for the aforementioned purposes, either tying it around her neck or keeping it suspended from a belt.
|Lot ID: 39|
|Low Estimate: $900|
|High Estimate: $1,800|
|Next Bid: $450|
|Sale ID: 6|
|Sale Date: July 28, 2016|
|Sale Location: Virtual Auction|
|Sale Sponsor: African Artworks from Berz Gallery of African Art|
|Sale Terms: View here|
|Live Bidding Link: SALE CLOSED|
|Location of Origin: Africa|
|Medium/Materials: wood, stain, encrustation|
|Dimensions: 7" (17.78 cm) height x 1.5" (3.81 cm) width|
|Primary Classification: African Artwork, Ethnographic & Tribal Arts : African Art : Country - Democratic Republic of Congo|
|Secondary Classification: African Artwork, Ethnographic & Tribal Arts : African Art : Object Type - Statue|
|"Each of the female figures is represented with a bowl that it holds in its left hand. This identifies the sculptures as protective figures (mbulenga). White clay, to which magical powers were attributed, was kept in special bowls. Mbulenga figures were believed to bring luck, especially to pregnant women and children, and to maintain beauty. In addition, they were also used for protection against crop failures, during the hunt and on journeys. Due to their small size, the sculptures could be worn on the body. Their reddish color was produced by rubbing them with camwood power (tukula) that was believed would activate inherent powers in the statues."|
Gabriele Franke in Expo cat.: "Being Object. Being Art. Masterpieces from the Collections of the Museum of World Cultures Frankfurt/Main", Achim Sibeth (ed.), Frankfurt am Main: Museum der Weltkulturen, 2009:126
|Provenance: Ex. Amyas Naegele, NY, Ex. Private Collection Ambassador Robert Keating, former President of the World Bank, Exhibition History: Vetted by a committee of tribal art experts as antique and authentic and exhibited at BRUNEAF Brussels, June 2015|
|Price:||Price on Request|
|Offered By:||CLOSED: African Artworks : 146 Lots : July 28-30|
|Contact:||The Curator's Eye|
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