Lee, thanks for your posting of examples of Lulua statuary. Some of the objects you posted I would have never considered to be Lulua - It was very interestingMessage 1 of 6 , Nov 7, 2006View Source
thanks for your posting of examples of Lulua statuary. Some of the objects you posted I would have never considered to be Lulua - It was very interesting for me. I'd like to take this opportuninty to share a strange Lulua object I just came across. I don't know if you already know it, because it's from the REMNANTS OF RITUAL image gallery and someone of the group already mentioned this site (I don't know who it was - probably you). The object comes from the region between Kasai Pende and Lulua...Perhaps it's intersting for someone...
The direct link is: http://www.remnantsofritual.com/gallery/092.html
--- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, LRubinstein@... wrote:
> Subsequent to my most recent (now the days are really becoming a blur;
> someone recently mentioned to me that it is November. It seems highly improbable
> but other sources to seem to confirm this suggestion.) posting regarding the
> Lulua figures -- mbulenga and others, I have gathered quite a number of
> additional examples of Lulua statuary to consider from various sources and have
> included some images of these figures below.
> First, however, I want to share some additional sources and points of
> information I came across when searching for a clearer picture of the history and
> social life that might inform the appearance of related figures such as those
> presented by you, Daniel and Terry -- some of which seem to integrate diverse
> cultural origins and influences. Linguistic and ethnic maps surely
> suggested that it would be logical that interactions existed and do exist between
> groups such as the Lulua and the Luba-Kasai (as well as northern-neighboring
> Kuba-related groups -- particularly the Ndengese). With regard to the two
> groups, Luba and Lulua, it should be noted that indeed the groups do speak variant
> or dialects of the same language, Tshiluba -- with the Luba being primary
> speakers of the Eastern variant Luba-Kasai and the Lulua speaking the Western
> variant Luba-Lulua. But, of course, geographical contiguity and linguistic
> relationship do not tell the whole story. Historical events, especially in the
> context of tempestuous modern -- and earlier -- history, must necessarily
> inform the ways in which peoples interact and affect the emergence of integrated
> stylistic forms. (I have yet to grapple effectively with the language trees
> to express accurately the linguistic relationship between these two groups
> and the neighboring "Kuba peoples.")
> In regard to matters both specifically arts-related and more general, I want
> to share an excerpt and a link from a source I came across in a search for
> more specific information and images about life in the Kasai region and in
> Luluabourg that I thought might illuminate my understanding of the real context
> in which Lulua art has emerged and, as you will see, has in some cases been
> obliterated. Obviously, an informed consideration of art forms from the
> region necessarily lead into realities that seem to be far beyond the specific
> topic. But, interaction -- social, stylistic, political -- cannot be wholly
> ignored in a comprehensive exploration of the context in which "art" is
> produced. The source is an excerpt from web-site of D'Lynn Waldron, formerly a
> correspondent in Africa for Scripps-Howard at the time of the Belgian withdrawal
> from the DRC and from her book, âThe Secret in the Heart of Darkness: the
> Sabotaged Independence of the Belgian Congo.â
> The specific section that deals with the consolidation and construction of
> traditional art from the Kasai region reveals forms that do not correspond with
> other images I have found elsewhere and serve as a reminder that what we see
> (are able to see) is never the total picture of the art...or the
> culture...or the history...:
> After breakfast, I walked over to the excellent little museum of ethnic art.
> The young Belgian curator had gathered a priceless collection of tribal
> masks, ancestor statues and fetishes from the Kasai. He had devoted ten years to
> winning the confidence of the chiefs and fetish priests of the tribes so they
> would entrust him with these precious objects.
> He explained to me that although the details may vary from tribe to tribe,
> like the sects of Christianity, there are certain basic elements common to the
> Bantu belief systems throughout Africa.
> The Bantu see their ancestors as protecting the tribe in return for
> perpetuation of the old ways - not unlike the Chinese concept. The chief is the tribeâ
> s intermediary with its ancestors, and an initiation ceremony enters boys
> into the estate of manhood and also makes them acceptable to enter their
> ancestorâs heaven, where they will spend eternity with their friends and relatives.
> In many tribes, Christian converts cannot enter the ancestral heaven.
> Yet the Europeanâs religion holds out the promise of 'power' to the African.
> The Bantu strives for 'power' the way men in other cultures strive for
> money, possessions or territory. Perhaps this is because land is owned communally
> in most Bantu societies and until the Europeans came there were few material
> goods to be acquired.
> 'Power' is a kind of life force and if one has it, he can protect himself
> from evil and exert a mystic control over others. Victorious warriors and great
> leaders have 'power', obviously. 'power' is incorporated into the physical
> body and increases with age. In West Africa it is called Tsav and it is seen
> as a yellow substance around the heart (a doctor would recognize this as fatty
> deposits,) In many tribes, all a man has to leave to his son is his 'power'
> and so when a man dies his son honors him by cutting out his heart and eating
> it. The bodies of 'powerful' men are much sought after by other men, who
> want to acquire their 'power' by eating the body,
> When the Europeans came to Africa they came as conquerors. They said their
> strength came from their God, and many Bantu became Christians to partake of
> that 'power'.
> The Bantu believe that all god and evil is accomplished through the exercise
> of 'power' by people. The exercise of 'power' for evil is witchcraft and a
> man who cannot counteract it himself must obtain the services of a witch
> doctor who exercises his own power in his clientâs behalf. A fetish priest who has
> some object in which 'power' has been caught that he can direct, can also
> counteract evil.
> Believing that all illness and misfortune is the work of another person's
> malevolence creates a paranoid atmosphere, which varies in intensity from tribe
> to tribe. In some tribes this tension builds up until a periodic orgy witch
> hunting eliminates all those whose wealth or political position shows they
> must possess Power and can therefore be blamed for the ills of everyone else.
> Among the BaKongo, witch-hunts are turned on the fetish objects and
> periodically a mania to destroy all fetish objects seizes the tribe.
> _CLICK TO ENLARGE TO FULL IMAGES_
> The curator had his African assistant take the finest fetishes ancestor
> statues and ritual masks out into the sunlight so I could photograph them. Then
> he showed me the massive file cabinet of slides in his office, of all the
> significant pieces still in situ in the Kasai.
> Next we went over to a workshop he had established for local artisans so
> young men could learn the old skills and acquire new ones. One young man was
> carving an ivory tusk, I recognized him, Two years before I had seen that same
> young man as a part of the diorama of African village life in the Congo
> pavilion at the Brussels Worldâs Fair. Heâd been doing a similar carving then..
> The carver had a motor scooter, and offered to take me around town. We first
> went to the post office where I mailed to my parents a large package of
> African hand-crafts which I had purchased in the museum store. Then we went by
> the railroad station where I made a reservation for that evening on the train
> leaving for Port Francqui.
> The young man left me off at my hotel, and I have often wondered what became
> of him. He was a Baluba and a quarter of a million of his people would die
> after Independence.
> And the little museum with its priceless collections? It was burned to the
> The link above will access the entire on-line account of D'Lynn Waldron's
> experience in the region during the period just prior to Congolese/Zairean
> independence. It is a compelling and sometimes gruesome narrative that provides
> at least one immediate perspective on a significant moment in Luba-Lulua
> relations and Congolese history, an account that raises more questions than it
> yields answers about the synthesis of artistic styles and what the apparent
> synthesis in some figures we have viewed suggests about the broader relationship
> between these specific peoples and their arts and cultures. Also, I cannot
> help but note parallels with other accounts of colonial and postcolonial era
> examples wherein the social and political landscape of a region was highly
> affected by the presence and withdrawal of colonial forces... I would, of
> course, welcome any other views and links to information that offer other
> perspectives on this period as well as regarding the history and culture of this
> region for a more complete understanding.
> Among the African works in the collection of the Honolulu Academy of the
> Arts (_http://old.honoluluacademy.org/perm/africa/index.htm_
> (http://old.honoluluacademy.org/perm/africa/index.htm) ) is this Lulua figure:
> Female Ancestor Figure >
> African, Zaire, Bena Lulua, 19th century
> Wood with traces of tukula pigment
> Promised gift of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Rogers
> And from the Art Institute of Chicago...
> Maternity Figure Democratic Republic of Congo; Luluwa Mid/late 19th
> century Wood, pigment h. 28.9 x w. 8.6 x d. 8.2 cm Wirt D. Walker
> Endowment Fund, 1993.354
> _View enlargement_
> The theme of mother and child is an important one in African art and is
> often explored in figurative sculptures that express concerns for fertility and
> continuity. This delicate sculpture of a mother cradling an infant was made
> for a member of Bwanga Bwa Cibola, a _ritual_
> (http://www.artic.edu/artaccess/AA_Africa/pages/glossary4.shtml#rit) association among the _Luluwa_
> (http://www.artic.edu/artaccess/AA_Africa/pages/glossary3.shtml#lul) of the
> _Democratic Republic of Congo_
> (http://www.artic.edu/artaccess/AA_Africa/pages/maps.shtml) . This organization is dedicated to the aid of women who have lost
> children during pregnancy or in infancy. Pregnant members of the group wear a
> special apron and belt, like those portrayed on the figure.
> With its large head, gracefully elongated neck, bulging, muscular calves,
> and oversized feet, the figure conforms to Luluwa standards of beauty and
> artistic convention. Exaggerated _scarification_
> (http://www.artic.edu/artaccess/AA_Africa/pages/glossary4.shtml#sca) patterns embellish her skin, reflecting
> the Luluwa connection between inner goodness and outer adornment. Many of
> these patterns also have other meanings; for instance, the double-waved line on
> the forehead _symbolizes_
> (http://www.artic.edu/artaccess/AA_Africa/pages/glossary4.shtml#sym) the double heartbeat of a mother and the child in her
> womb. Concentric circles on the temples refer to the heavens and represent hope.
> A Luluwa woman who has had difficulty bearing healthy children will consult
> a _diviner_
> (http://www.artic.edu/artaccess/AA_Africa/pages/glossary1.shtml#dvr) , or _ritual specialist_
> (http://www.artic.edu/artaccess/AA_Africa/pages/glossary4.shtml#rits) _,_
> (http://www.artic.edu/artaccess/AA_Africa/pages/glossary4.shtml#rits) who may recommend that she be initiated into Bwanga Bwa
> Cibola. The associationâs practices include making ritual medicine to protect
> mother and child and to link them with spiritual forces. In the late 19th
> century, a period of growing affluence for some Luluwa, wealthy women
> _commissioned_ (http://www.artic.edu/artaccess/AA_Africa/pages/glossary1.shtml#comm)
> exquisitely detailed sculptures like this one as containers for such
> medicines. The figureâs surface was rubbed with oil, red earth, and kaolin. Medicines
> were inserted in holes at the top and back of its head. Production of such
> figures stopped in the early 20th century.
> At the Detroit Institute of the Arts we find:
> Figure Mbulenga (82.49) 1875/1900
> (_Bena Lulua_
> (http://www.dia.org/asp/search/ExecuteSearch.asp?artist=Bena+Lulua&AID=926) )
> Object Date
> 19 7/8 x 5 1/4 x 5 1/2 in. ( 50.5 x 13.3 x 14 cm)
> Carved and patinated wood, shell
> _Africa, Oceania & Indigenous Americas_
> Artist: Bena Lulua
> Photo Â© 2004, Detroit Institute of Arts