Bena Lulua Maternity Miniature Figure 11.5 Inch Congo
This delightful miniature depicts a mother holding a child. Her face, head, and neck are decorated with ornate designs that suggest the hand of a Lulua carver.
The Lulua Maternity Figure with an Infant from the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a notable example of Lulua artistry. These sculptures are revered by the Lulua people and hold significant cultural and religious importance. The sculpture depicts a mother holding her infant child, symbolizing the importance of fertility, motherhood, and the continuation of the community.
The Lulua Maternity Figure is typically carved from wood and exhibits intricate scarification patterns on the body. Scarification is a common practice among the Lulua, and the patterns serve as a form of personal and cultural identification. These patterns are unique to each individual and may indicate their social status, achievements, or family lineage.
The sculpture often features exaggerated body proportions, such as elongated torsos and enlarged heads, which are stylistic elements common in Lulua art. The facial features are usually abstracted, emphasizing geometric shapes and patterns. The bent legs and hands placed on the cheeks, as mentioned earlier, are associated with the burial position used for village leaders.
Lulua art, including the Maternity Figure, is highly valued and considered a form of prestige and wealth. It is believed to have protective and spiritual powers, connecting the living with their ancestors and the spirit world. The sculptures are often placed in shrines or used in ceremonial practices to honor and communicate with ancestral spirits. Hemp-smoking ceremonies may also be conducted as part of these rituals.
The Lulua people have been influenced by neighboring kingdoms, such as the Kuba and Luba, and their artistic traditions reflect these cultural interactions. While statues are more common in Lulua art, masks are relatively scarce. The production of these sculptures, with their intricate details and cultural symbolism, demonstrates the artistic mastery and spiritual significance within Lulua society.
Overall, the Lulua Maternity Figure with Infant is a significant example of the artistic heritage and cultural practices of the Lulua people in the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Approximate Age: 20th Century
Made In: Africa