Hemba Ancestor Figure, Hemba Tribe, DR Congo
A nude male figure carved of wood, raised, oval eyes, small round ears, and a small pointed beard. Elaborate hatched chieftain-style, coiffure with crest. The thick neck and shoulders lead to arms which are at the sides of the figure. The blunt hands come together above the extended abdomen is bulbous with a protruding navel. The knees are slightly bent and the feet are flat.
Among the Hemba, ancestor effigies are called Singiti. These figures were hidden within the family compound in a separate shrine. In ancestral rites, the sculptures were the focus of invocations recalling heroic deeds of the ancestor. The pose of this figure may reflect wisdom and interior calm; the coiffure signifies the directions and crossroads where spirits gather. The swelling of the stomach has associations with lineage continuity, but in general, such figures embody intelligence, strength, energy and fertility.
Wood is checked (split) in the front, back and on the left side. (See photos)
Acquired in 2018 from the estate of Jacques Gansler
Dimensions: Height 19 inches; Width 5.5 inches; Depth 6 inches (approx)