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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Hemba, Luba, Shankadi : Hemba Wooden Ancestral Sculpture of a Man
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Hemba Wooden Ancestral Sculpture of a Man - PF.5481
Origin: Southeastern Congo
Circa: 19 th Century AD to 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 9.25" (23.5cm) high x 2.5" (6.4cm) wide
Collection: African
Medium: Wood

Location: UAE
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The Hemba people dwelt Northeast of the Luba tribe, and were once classed as a Luba subgroup. However, enhanced studies of the tribe have now recognized them as a distinct people with many dominant traits both in their artistry and their culture. The Hemba are famed in their artistry for their powerful renditions of male ancestor figures. These wooden masterpieces exude greater power and authority than their diminutive size might suggest. One glance at this striking man and one is undoubtedly in awe of his presence and might. These ancestral figures were kept in the chief’s home as a devotional object to impart power and strength upon both the chief and his tribesmen.

The powerful stance of this figure is coupled with beautiful symmetry. This noble and proud statue of an ancestor exhibits the very distinct qualities the Hemba so admired. The striking face impresses us as being benevolent and yet determined and fiercely adamant. The handsomely detailed beard and headdress intensify the nobility of this exalted ancestor. His stance is firm and solid, as are the foundations of the earth. His belly is pronounced and generous, as are the fruits of the land upon which the Hemba lived. His arms are brought forward over his pronounced abdomen, protecting the very wealth and abundance of his people and land. His feet are wide, as is his protection over the Hemba people. This ancestor once ornamented the home of a tribal chief; today he ornaments our lives with his noble presence. We too may look to this ancestor figure for strength, and in his benevolent face we shall find it.
- (PF.5481)


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