A few months ago a member posted pics taken from a Berlin museum that included a beautiful Lulua warrior figure collected in the late 19th C. (See http://groups.yahoo.com/group/African_Arts/photos/album/1041941567/pic/1579510987/view?
-- Lee) This summer I acquired a similar piece of considerably more recent vintage but believed (by me and the person who collected it) to be authentic nonetheless and have posted pics in a folder called "Lulua warrior figure":
This piece was purchased in 2006 in Kongolo village, DRC, and shows both similarities and departures from the stylistic elements of the Berlin piece. Notably, it's much heavier set and less elongated than more classical Lulua pieces (and, tho' nicely carved, is obviously considerably less fine than the older Berlin piece). Further, the head and beard area is carved to project out more from the chest to give greater depth similar to Kusu carving traditions. Also, the carved buffalo horn amulet worn over the shoulder in the older piece is replaced in this one by a prestige axe--suggesting Luba influences, in my opinion.
My research suggests that these pieces were intended to represent the ideal warrior and were sometimes taken into battle for inspiration. Other sources suggest that they were buried outside of a living space for protection when the head of the household was absent. When the Berlin piece was collected, it was marking a grave site.
Historically, these pieces were annointed with oil or water and red, camwood powder, which the Lulua also did to themselves for aesthetic reasons. This piece has reddish, muddy deposits in areas (heavier in spots) but it's not clear to me whether it is from ritual use, exposure to the elements or "enhancement" for sale (always a possibility).
Anyway, I saw that Lee had commented on some Lulua sculptural traits on his Leo Africanus site* and thought I'd share this one for any comments, observations or insights Lee or anyone else may have either on this piece or the usage of similar pieces by the Lulua. Thanks, and
Moderator's note: Referenced link...( I think!):
"Lulua... and challenges and errors in identification":
Also please see these links also pertaining to Lulua sculpture and 20th century regional (Kasai region) history:
"Lulua figure: mbulenga" http://web.mac.com/leerubinstein/LeoAfricanusGallery/ART_BLOG/Entries/2006/10/20_Lulua_figures.html
"LULUA... reality (DLynn Waldron)"