14" Tall (35.6 cm)CONDITION:
The traditional carvings are usually for ancestor and spirit cults, for initiation, medical and divination purposes. The favorite theme in sculpture was woman since, according to the Luba myth, Vilie was the first woman spirit, founder of the clan and guarantor of fertility and the lineage. Women were cult guardians, and the royal wives played an important role: sent as emissaries to the chiefs of neighboring ethnicities, they would contract profitable political alliances based on marriage. Some figures are freestanding, almost always in a frontal position, often with their hands on their breasts; others are kneeling, sitting, or standing figures whose upraised hands serve as supports for bowls, seats, and neck rests. The figures are often characterized by elaborate scarification patterns on the body. Because of the emphasis on women, Luba objects were usually the property of men of noble status. The artists who made them were also men, trained in blacksmithing and woodcarving.