- Museum number
Female figure made of wood, hide (with hair). This statuette with a ringed neck is typical of the Niembo group. The face is full and round suggesting inner calm; the eyes downcast, suggesting both insight and deference to the spirit world; the hair is dressed with a finely carved diadem in front with horizontal decorated plaits behind folded into vertical plaits, a hairstyle typical of the southern regions.
- Production date
- 19thC(late) (?)
Height: 46 centimetres
Width: 11.50 centimetres
Depth: 13 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Emblems of Luba kings often depicted the female form in the belief that women are the most efficient guardians of royal secrets; one Luba proverb states: 'only the body of a woman is strong enough to hold a spirit as powerful as that of a king.' The stance of the figure makes a further reference to the Luba belief that the secrets of royalty lie within a woman's breasts.
J. Mack (ed.), Africa: arts and cultures (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)
This figure was possibly acquired in Ujiji where the London Missionary Society established thier first mission post in 1878. It may be one of the 'images' described in a 'List of Curios from Central Africa' which were taken 'by the Rev Ralph Wardlaw Thompson to Liverpool on 12 April 1881'. The list includes '3 wooden images. Spirits of ancestors. Ujiji'. The list is held in the AOA departmental archives.
- On display (G25/dc12)
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Possibly acquired by the Rev. Ralph Wardlaw Thompson (LMS) in Ujiji in 1881 (see 'list of curios' in AOA archives).
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
CDMS number: Af1910C3.441 (old CDMS no.)