Bena Lulua maternity figure


Forms and Aesthetics in African Sculpture

Proportions: The maternity statues of the Bena Lulua are generally characterized by slender proportions and precise sculptural details, with generously illustrated forms.

One of the most striking features of these statues is the presence of detailed scarifications on the mother's body. These geometric motifs are finely incised and add a rich textural dimension to the sculpture.

The mother is often depicted in a seated or standing posture, holding the child in a protective and nurturing manner. The child can be placed frontally; here, the child is carried on the back, which is rarer in maternity statuary.

Protection and Fertility

These statues symbolize fertility, maternity, and protection. The presence of the child on the statue emphasizes the importance of lineage and continuity.

Fertility Rites

These statues are often used in fertility rituals, invoking blessings for women desiring to conceive or for the protection of children.


They can also play a role in initiation ceremonies, symbolizing the qualities expected of women in Bena Lulua society.

Veneration of Ancestors

The statues serve to honor the ancestors and to remind the importance of family ties and community continuity. They are also educational objects, transmitting cultural values and ideals of beauty and behavior to younger generations.

Aesthetic Value

Collectors appreciate these statues for their unique aesthetics, precise details, and the artisanal mastery that characterizes them. The scarifications and elegant forms are particularly prized.

The maternity statues of the Bena Lulua are much more than mere art objects. They reflect a rich cultural tradition, imbued with symbolism and significance. Their artistic beauty, combined with their profound cultural and ritual content, explains why they are so prized by collectors and admirers of African art around the world.

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Data sheet

Presumed dating
Circa 1960
22 cm
Ethnic group
Lulua / Bena-Lulua / Luluwa
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Tribal art collection Belgium