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Congo. Hemba, Luba Shankadi, sculpture of a pregnant woman, standing, nude; wood carving, height: 32 cm

Lot reference 19683905
Congo. Hemba, Luba Shankadi, sculpture of a pregnant woman, standing, nude; wood carving, height: 32 cm

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Current bid $58
Next minimum bid $64
Location: Belgium
Auction fee: 9% of the winning bid
Shipping to United States: $65.57
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$58 Bidder 5847
28-07-2018 20:59:19
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28-07-2018 20:58:14

Southeastern Congo Circa: 1940, Epoque Colonial of Belgium

Congo Hemba, Luba, Shankadi, sculpture of a pregnant woman, standing, nude

wood carving

Height: 32 cm


Southeastern Congo Circa: 1940, Epoque Colonial of Belgium

This carving was purchased by the father of the present owner to JACQUES BERKOWITSCH, specialist antiquarian at Madrid, c / Velazquez, on 21 January 1980


This powerful and well-used sculpture of a standing female is an ancestor figure from the Hemba group of what was once Zaire. Female figures are markedly less common than male versions, as most figures represent the male founders of tribal clans (see below). In most was it is to traditional Hemba piece, carved with the book and thus implied refinement. Starting from a circular integral base, the legs are short and flexed at the knee and hip, running up to a protuberant posterior and a long torso. In rear view, she has splayed buttocks, angular shoulders, and a line running the full length of the centre of the back. She also has a broad cruciform decoration on the back of her backwards-extended coiffure. She is either well-nourished or pregnant, with a large stomach - her hands resting upon it - and pendulous, pointed breasts. The neck is columnar, with an oversize head. The face is serene and small-featured, with fine double-arched brows running into an elongated nose, flanked by oval eyes and a wide, thin-lipped mouth. The surface of the piece is glossy and burnished, implying a long history of handling and perhaps the application of libations.

The Hemba are an agriculturally-based group living on the banks of the Lualaba River, in what was once Zaire. They are arranged into large groups which approximate to clan, each of which has a common ancestor, and is headed by an elder known as the Fuma Mwalo. He is responsible for justice, receives tribute from his subordinates; his power is counterbalanced by secret societies called Bukazanzi (for men) and Bukibilo (for women).

The Hemba were long believed to be contiguous with the Luba, and only achieved sociocultural independence in the eyes of western African art history in the 1970s. The Luba and the Hemba are socioculturally and artistically similar in many respects. However, artistic production can be differentiated in terms of the delicacy (enthusiasts would describe it as “refinement”) of the carving. They are known for their decoration of secular and utilitarian objects, notably caryatid stools, headrests and instruments; masks are highly distinctive – wither monkey masks, or perfectly symmetrical plain masks with slit eyes that are reminiscent of Lega pieces – although their social role is currently unclear. In general terms, figure features tend to be sharper, with more peripheral detailing (such as hair and beards) and a subtle geometric quality. One of the very few indigenous artists known specifically to western art historians was a member of the Hemba group; the “Master of Buli” is known for his unique rendering of human features in an elongated, somewhat simian manner. Hemba figures – singiti – usually represent male ancestors, naked figures standing on circular bases, with elongated torsos, hands resting on the stomach (usually protuberant, perhaps representing wealth or prosperity), beards, and coiffure drawn back and formed into the shape of a cross. Warrior figures (carrying weapons) confer power, and are usually kept by the Fuma Mwalo; they usually have an encrusted patina as the blood of animals (usually chickens) is poured over them during ceremonies to recall the glories of their lives. The Fuma Mwalo also keeps small Janus figures known as kabejas, which are made magical by the addition of substances to small depressions in their heads; their role is to protect the village, and also receive libations to ensure they do so adequately.

This is an attractive and refined piece of African art, and is a striking addition to any collection.

Be DukeofWellington  

Catawiki member since March 26, 2018, received 70 reviews in total (66 in last 12 months)

Feedback score: 83.3% (66 reviews)
(last 12 months)
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    Rispondente alla descrizione imballo "esagerato" ma giustamente prudente...
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    sfrantorium-1 December 1, 2018

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    Alles in gutem Zustand angekommen.Warum er letzte Woche schon mir sagte, dass das Päckchen angeblich da ist, bleibt mir ein Rätsel.
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    JoeKa September 5, 2018

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    It took a bit more time to recieve the product but everything was ok in the end.
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    sjanapes August 29, 2018

  • Everything perfect

    user-8570e4a August 27, 2018

  • Shipping is 33 euros from a apparent Belgian seller, yet arrives in a piece of folded carboard from Spain which could not have been more than a few euros. Ripoff

    ppdebie August 27, 2018

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    Op de site staat dat het een belgische verkoper is maar items worden verstuurd vanuit spanje de kosten voor verzending veel te hoog
    maakt zijn winst op de verzending niet volgens de regels afrader
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    woef-2008 August 25, 2018

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    Stamp on the package = 10,15€ , I paid 36€ --- and no tracking code.
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    Cnulleke August 18, 2018

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    Bonito artículo que ha llegado en perfectas condiciones.
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    user-b84b868 August 17, 2018

  • Object was not as aspeced and I think that the bidding had been pussed up by the vender
    I Will not buy again from this vender

    user-62b55b4 August 17, 2018

  • Excellent bowl ! Very beautiful

    user-8570e4a August 14, 2018

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    Bordje was nep en met een chemisch goedje bewerkt, en de kosten voor verzenden was veeeeel te veel dus teruggestuurd,
    Dus pas op met deze verkoper,
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    maisonvoila August 14, 2018

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    de verzending kostprijs was volgens de postzegel 10 euro ik betaalde 30 euro ik heb een mail gestuurd met foto van de zegel maar nog respons gehad
    gr ben
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    benonibeeckman August 6, 2018

  • Elegant Victorian tableware. I m happy .
    I hope buy another soon

    user-8570e4a August 1, 2018

  • The product is not white jade,it’s made of glass...and it’s not look like the picture..

    user-6b19cf0 August 1, 2018

  • Beautiful item with fast delivery

    user-8570e4a July 31, 2018

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    Pas op bij deze aanbieder. Als de opbrengst tegenvalt wordt het item simpelweg niet geleverd. Tevens biedt hij op eigen kavels en mocht hij het kavel winnen, dan schrijft hij zelf een lovende feedback
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    ntijmes July 31, 2018

    Response by seller
    This buyer is dangerous !! He buy !! He write he don´t want the item in messages. He only search claim and search problems. Bette4r be faraway from this very bad person
  • Got it. Excellent. Thanks Tim

    user-1518895 July 23, 2018

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    Great seller !! Very good transaction
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    user-e20be6b July 23, 2018

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    Seller ignores my messages. Won’t deliver the items I bought, when the price was lower than expected. Says item was already sold before. Uses the excessive shipping costs as a way to up his earnings.
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    ntijmes July 23, 2018

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    ik koop aan 30 en U rekent me verzendkosten van 33 €
    is dit geen schande ?
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    vanlander July 18, 2018

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    bonjour,
    tous s'est bien déroulé livraison et emballage correcte pour tous les lots

    cordialement,
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    user-0f8bbde July 18, 2018

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    Pessimo imballaggio .
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    Alessandro1927 July 12, 2018

  • Yes I got it thank you glen1958

    glen1958 July 8, 2018

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    Good dealer
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    user-e20be6b July 7, 2018

  • Everything OK

    user-d9565ae July 5, 2018

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Belgium $44.49
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Rest of Europe $45.67
Anywhere else $65.57

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