A male Hemba Niemba sculpture

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Category: SKU: DSC03969


A male Hemba Niemba sculpture, Zaire, From the early to mid 20th Century.

“At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York in 2011, an impressive statue stood as the centerpiece of a display of Hemba ancestor figures in the landmark exhibition Heroic Africans: Legendary Leaders, Iconic Sculptures. In the accompanying exhibition catalogue, Alisa LaGamma described the sculpture as possessing “quiet power, impressive for its considerable scale.” Among the Hemba, the family relationship transcended death in an eternal bond.

Niembo style from the Southern Hemba country part. François Neyt calls these sculptures “irrefutable genealogical markers”, but it is rare for the name of the venerated ancestor to remain known. When this monumental and elegiac sculpture was collected its name was recorded as Kalala Lea, “a celebrated ancestral leader of the Kitunga clan from a village north of Mbulula.”

Although the Hemba artist would follow certain accepted canons of representation, each sculpture is highly individualized, with the head, and particularly the face, the source of distinction, rather than the posture or body. Looking at Kalala Lea one feels the presence and vigilance of the ancestor whose spirit is enshrined in this sublime sculpture.

The Big ones are made to protect a village, the medium sized ones like these ( 27 cm) to protect a family, the smaller ones are made to protect individuals.” David Norden.

600 – 800,- Euro

Height: 29 cm
Weight: 540 g

Additional information

Weight 0.540 kg