Luba Female Figure, Democratic Republic of the Congo
height 19in (43.3cm)
standing on abstract semicircular block feet supporting angular bent legs and broad rounded hips, the prominent genitalia beneath a slender torso with projecting acute navel and raised tattooing made of wire tapped into the wood, framed by broad rounded shoulders leading to lengthy attenuate arms looping and terminating in hands grasping the conical breasts, surmounted by a slightly cocked, forward-thrusting head with small hole at the crown, a raised hollowed rectangular mouth, triangular nose and coffee bean eyes flanked by semicircular ears, wearing a typical Luba crossed coiffure at the back with a raised chevron band across the crown, two numbers on the bottom reading '80' in white pigment and 'A34' in red pigment, an old label accompanies this piece reading "K.K. Naturhistor Hofmuseum Anthropolog-Ethnograph Sammlung."; fine blackened patina.
Könlicher König Naturhistor Hofmuseum, Anthropolog-Ethnograph Sammlung (Royal Emperor's Natural History Court Museum, Anthropologic-Ethnographic Collection), later renamed the Museum für Völkerkunde, Vienna.
Harry Franklin Gallery, Beverly Hills
Cf. Fagg (1970: fig. 68) for another figure with unusual wire tapped into the wood.
Cf. Roberts and Roberts (1996: fig. 109) for the type, "used in Mbudye initiation rites to represent the myriad titles and officeholders in the Luba royal hierarchy".