Bena Lulua figure - SOLD OUT

Traditional African art of the first part of the 20th century among the Lulua of the D. R. Congo 

This authentic African Lulua statue could serve as a guide to the questions some collectors have about the authenticity of African art objects in general. With its natural and ancient patina, high precision chiselling of the motifs, typology and iconography, this statue is an accomplished work of art from the hand of a master sculptor. Many indicators are present on this statue, so do not hesitate to be inspired. Artificially patinated art objects are a scourge on the market, false crust, black colour shade, sometimes leading to disturbing smells! 

A striking and unusual wooden carving of a female with a rich honey coloured patina. The head has a tall projecting finial extension to the top and is dome shaped with a series of spirals and chevron patterns to it. The face is small in comparison and has a heavy brow with small, half closed almond shaped eyes. The nose is short, with flared nostrils and the mouth is small with fleshy, open lips. the cheeks have a series of engraved patterns representing scarification marks. To the back of the head is a round cap representing the hair. The neck is characterised by a thick collar that is engraved all over. The body displays a geometric form with small arms bent at the elbows and with the right hand by the side of the stomach, and the left holding a cup. The upper body is naked and the breasts and stomach are engraved. There is a thick belt with engraved decoration to the waist and a small apron to the front. The legs are also engraved with panels of decoration.

The Lulua statues are highly distinctive due to the profusion of carvings to them that represent scarification marks. These statues are power figures and come in male and female form. the most famous are the female, such as this example, which are known as mbulenga. The male statues were placed outside the front of the hut to act as guardians whilst the head of the family was absent. The female statues acted as guardians of women undergoing childbirth. The protruding abdomen of the female statues represents the importance of family lineage. The projecting "spike" to the top of the head symbolizes power. 

This figure was appraised and described by Mr Gaunt, an expert in ethnographic art and curator of the collections of the Buxton Museum in the United Kingdom. 

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Data sheet

Presumed dating
C. 1920 - 1940
34,5 cm
Ethnic group
Lulua / Bena-Lulua / Luluwa
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Private Belgium Family
Overall purity and finesse

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