A Luba bowl bearer figure

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Lot 2601
A fine Luba bowl bearer figure
height 11 1/2in.

US$ 20,000 - 30,000
£ 15,000 - 23,000
A fine Luba bowl bearer figure
Democratic Republic of Congo, executed in soft wood, with remains of oily areas to the face; deep reddish brown patina; raised scarifications to the temples and abdomen in the form of inset rattan staples.
height 11 1/2in.

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    Alfred Schienberg prior to 1975

    Exhibited:
    Governors State University, IL, 2003
    Krannert Art Museum, IL, 2003
    Belger Art Foundation/University of Missouri-Kansas City, MO, 2004
    Tall Grass Art Association, IL, 2005

    Published:
    Bourgeois and Rodolitz, REMNANTS OF RITUAL: SELECTIONS FROM THE GELBARD COLLECTION OF AFRICAN ART, Ethnos, New York, 2003, p.48, fig.103

    Luba seated females presenting a bowl are known as mboko or kabila. The principal substance held within the bowl is pemba, a white clay for ritual use. The scale and composition of this example are particularly appealing. The stylistic attributes would point to an Eastern origin, possibly even Northeastern among the Hemba bordering the Luba as evidenced by the form of the face and the shape and style of the coiffure. Of particular note are the raised scarifications on this figure which upon closer examination may be seen to be pieces of rattan that have been formed into “staples” and inserted into the wooden body of the figure. Another example displaying this extremely unusual treatment in the Berlin Museum was collected by Müller in 1903. This example, a female caryatid stool, executed in the same manner and almost certainly made by the same carver or workshop displays not only the rather unusual inserted scarifications, but nearly identical treatment of the facial features and volumes of the body. This establishes a clear and early date of manufacture for the Gelbard bowl bearer, and reinforces the belief that the aged, oily surface and wear come from years of use by the Luba in a traditional context, and not from the later workshops established at Mwanza and in time elsewhere.
A Luba bowl bearer figure
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