SALE END DATE AND TIME
July 31, 2016 : SALE CLOSED
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|Hemba, Democratic Republic of Congo|
This figure is stylistically consistent with most renowned Hemba commemorative figures in its overt emphasis on the head, shoulders, and sloping torso. The expression of the figural form is one that conveys “ubatizha”, or dignified contemplation. This type of contemplation and a stature of dignity were always of primary importance to the Hemba. The design of the hair reflects the status of the ancestor in the social order and the cross shape on the hairpiece was worn by men and women who lived on the banks of the Lukuga River.
The figure has a presence that is expressed through its firm, strong shoulder structure, curved, sloping torso, widened legs, and well-balanced neck, face and wrapped hair. It is rare in its diminuitive size; most singiti figures are four times as large as this piece.
According to Alisa LaGamma, in Heroic Africans: Legendary Leaders, Iconic Sculptures, prior to the arrival of the colonials, the cohesion of the family was the primary value of the Hemba people. The group’s identity was based in the concept of lineage, and specifically, familial lineage. Political leadership and spiritual practice was based upon “ancestral devotion”. Arguably, leadership lineage among chiefs was an expression of this tribal value.
To commemorate the image and memory of a former male chief, the Hemba carved figures such as this statue, known as singiti. The ownership of one of these carved figures demonstrated the connection to the previous authority, thereby legitimizing the authority and status of the existing chief. Singiti were not rigidly sculpted portraits completed at or before the death of the chief in whose image a figure was made, but the result of the interpretation of imaging and vision that came in dreams.
A fine summation of the meaning of the statues is provided by LaGamma, “As the cherished importance of each pre-colonial leader, the sculptures not only validated chiefly authority but also provided aspirational exemplars of how that role should be fulfilled, reflecting the profound nature of the relationship between a new chief and his precursors.” (Heroic Africans, p. 228)
|Lot ID: 30|
|Low Estimate: $9,000|
|High Estimate: $14,000|
|Next Bid: $4,750|
|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 (one piece), applied oils, stain|
|Dimensions: 9.75" (24.8 cm) height|
|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|
|The following summary about the Hemba, is souced from the University of Iowa “Africa Peoples Online”, ref. Christopher D. Roy. |
The artistic style of the Hemba is very similar to that of the Luba, as many of their forms are borrowed. Art often results from the elaboration of otherwise simple utilitarian objects. Extensive wooden sculptures, which often represent the ancestors, predominate.
Near the end of the 16th century, the Hemba began their migration from an area to the northeast, probably modern day Tanzania. In the 1800s under the direction of Niembo and his son, Myhiya, the Hemba moved into their current location along the Congo River. The Luba unsuccessfully tried to incorporate the Southern Hemba into their growing kingdom. The Luba did succeed, however, in greatly influencing the Hemba in numerous ways, including artistic styles. In the late 19th century, the Hemba were subjugated to raids by Arab slave traders and again by Belgian forces during colonization.
The Hemba are primarily subsistence agriculturalists whose main staples include manioc, maize, peanuts, and yams. These crops are supplemented by small scale hunting and fishing done mostly by the men. Some alluvial copper is panned from the river and sold to outside markets.
Generally, the Hemba acknowledge chiefs who are heads of extended landholding families as their political leaders. Genealogy is recognized both matrilinearly and patrilinearly, but land chiefs inherit their positions through their maternal line.
The Hemba recognize Vidiye Mukulu (a creator god) and Shimugabo (a supreme being). Worship is primarily carried out through sacrifices and offerings to ancestor shrines. Diviners play an important role in society, often requiring that certain ancestors be appeased in order to establish balance in the community.
Further expertise and reading: LaGamma, in Heroic Africans: Legendary Leaders, Iconic Sculptures, Aghte (Johanna), "Luba Hemba. Werke unbekannter Meister. Sculptures by unknown masters", Museum für Völkerkunde, Frankfurt am Main, 1983
|Provenance: Ex. James Willis, US (original certificate of authenticity and ownership included with purchase), Ex. Marc L. Felix (Brussels); photo included is of Mr. Willis with this important Hemba figure|
|Price:||Price on Request|
|Offered By:||CLOSED: African Artworks : 146 Lots : July 28-30|
|Contact:||The Curator's Eye|
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