Standing female figure "mukuya"
D. R. Congo, Bembe
|Peter Willborg, Stockholm, Sweden||H: 6.9 inch||sold|
wood, beautiful rich, slightly oily patina, kaolin, white porcelain inlay, various drilled holes for magical substances, rest. Figures of the same artist shown in Lehuard & Lecomte, 2010, p. 112 and in the catalogue of the Arcade Gallery, London, Spring 1975, Cat. No. 9. The most striking feature of Bembe statuettes is their lengthened body which is richly decorated with tattoos, marking the identity of the depicted person as well as her social rank. The figurines were kept in the houses of lineage leaders were they were put on a shrine/altar. At certain times they were anointed with ritually important liquids and "tukula" and they received offerings of beverages and food and animals were killed in their favour. Ritual specialists or lineage leaders will enter in communication with the ancestors through the intermediary of the figurines so as to ask protection, general well-being or specific favours.