Rare 1930s? Horned Hemba African Woman Figure, No Reserve
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Rare 1930s? Horned Hemba African Woman Figure, No Reserve:
Horned figures (male or female) are very rare in Hemba art and the exact meaning is unclear. This is a wonderful example with serene eyes and a protruding tongue and belly. The figure is quite sturdy despite the loss on the back of the base.
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 (Zaire) 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.
southeast DRC, the 90,000 Hemba people inhabit the right bank of the Lualaba River. This
region presents vast plains surrounded by high hills and bordered by streams, rocks, and
marshes. They are primarily subsistence agriculturalists whose main staples
include manioc, maize, peanuts, beans 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. Their social organization is founded on a
system of clans that brings together several families sharing a common ancestor. They
recognize a creator god Vidiye Mukulu and a supreme being ShimuGabo. The
Hemba practice ancestor worship, not only to keep the memory of their great chiefs alive,
but also to justify the present authority and power of the chief of the clan; the latter
has absolute authority over clan members and is in charge of several ancestor figures he
keeps in his own hut or in a smaller, funerary hut. The chief of the clan renders justice
and his status as clan head means that he has the privilege of receiving numerous gifts.
As celebrant of the ancestral cult, the chief of the clan, surrounded by the people,
communicates with the ancestor, recalling his great deeds and summoning his good will. He
renders justice in his own home, and collects tributes for it. Along with medicine, law,
and sacrifices, the ancestral cult penetrates all social, political, and religious
domains. To possess numerous effigies is a sign of nobility. Secret societies such as
Bukazanzi for the men and Bukibilo for the women counterbalance the chief
of the clan’s
play an important role in society, often requiring that certain ancestors be appeased in
order to establish balance in the 20" (51cm)
5 lbs (2.25kg)Provenance- I acquired this several years ago from a privateBelgian collector who claimed it was collected in the 1930s by his grandfather- I have no other information. It is an outstanding example of African craftsmanship and artistry.
Additional Information: I have paid quite a bit for my collection over the years but will set a low starting price and let you decide what they are worth to you. The low starting price is not an indication of low value. These pieces are beautiful, quality collector’s items.Shipping:
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