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July 31, 2016 : SALE CLOSED
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|Bene Lulua, Democratic Republic of Congo|
This abstract and very old example of Lulua statuary features a departure from some of the components of these figures for which they have become known, and collectively form the reason that Lulua figures are very desirable for collectors and are present in most major museum and important private collections.
This figure has layered patina, and incredible signs of age and use. It is most likely that this figure represented some type of charm or protective statue; it is thought that the extended belly on the figure has a "life" connotation or meaning, while the large head is an important but unknown element of the figure. It is thought that the single horn projected atop the head is a power feature, which gives the figure power, while the angular arm position with stout legs are symbols of virility and power.
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)
From our knowledge and experience with Bene Lulua figures, it is most likely that this figure dates to the early part of the 20th century. Philipe Laermans, in his certificate of authenticity (included) asserts a period of origin as late 19th century. The piece is in outstanding condition and shows the appropriate level of surface wear and soft edges as a result of human handling; it certainly does not appear to have been artificially aged in any objective criteria.
|Lot ID: 130|
|Low Estimate: $900|
|High Estimate: $2,900|
|Next Bid: $475|
|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 from shrine applications, oils|
|Dimensions: 7.5" (19.05 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|
|Expertise: Phillips, "Africa: The Art of a Continent"; Roy, "Kilengi"; Visona, "A History of Art In Africa", Bacquart, "The Tribal Arts of Africa"; Expertise: Aghte (Johanna), ""Luba Hemba. Werke unbekannter Meister. Sculptures by unknown masters"", Museum für Völkerkunde, Frankfurt am Main, 1983|
Bettencourt de Faria, ""O arremesso com arco e setas nas tribos Quioca, Camatapa e Baluba"", in Mensário Administrativon 1960:41-55, 155-160
Colle (Reverend Pierre), ""Les Baluba"", vol. II, Brussels 1913
Felix (Marc Leo), ""Luba Zoo: Kifwebe and other striped masks"", Brussels: Zaire Basin Art History Research Center, Occasional Paper, June 1992
Maesen (Albert), ""Une statue d'ancetre Hemba"", Africa-Tervuren XX-1974
Mahauden (Charles), ""Kisongokimo chasse et magie chez les Balubas"", Paris: Flammarion, 1965
Makiba Kalanda (Augusto), ""Baluba et Lulua: une ethnie à la recherche d'un nouvel équilebre"", Bruxelles: Remarques Congolaises, 1959:87
Mutimanwa Wenga-Mulayi, ""Etude Socio-Morphologique Des Masques Blancs Luba ou Bifwebe"", 1973-1974
Neyt (François) & de Strijcker (Louis), ""Approche des Arts Hemba"", Arnouville: Collection Arts d'Afrique Noire, 1974
|Provenance: Ex. Private NY Collection; 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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