Luba Lupona stool
Art and power among the Luba
An unusual wooden Luba stool with excellent, dark patina. The body of the stool is carved as a caryatid female with smooth features to the face characterized by the large, half closed eyes. The hair is pulled back to form a cone shape to the back of the head. To the top of the head is the shallow, bowl shaped seat. The arms are uplifted to support the seat. the body is solidly carved with prominent pointed breasts, and the area of the stomach is carved to show scarification marks. The legs are splayed on the oval base.
This type of stool is not meant to be sat upon, but rather acts as a symbolic expression of power for a deceased chief. They also act as a form of ancestral memory for that particular deceased chief as part of the ancestor worship that forms such an important part of Luba society. These memorial stools always have the figure of a female supporting the seat, and they are carved so as to represent the Luba concept of ideal, female beauty. Women in Luba society are believed to be the receptacles of spiritual power, and so these figures act as the embodiment of the power of the chiefs.