late 1800s-early 1900s
Wood, glass beads, upholstery studs, natural fiber, and pigment
Overall: 53.4 x 13.1 x 14.6 cm (21 x 5 3/16 x 5 3/4 in.)
Gift of the African Art Sponsors of Karamu House 1931.426
Wearing an elaborate lobed headdress and a beaded waistbelt, and having filed teeth and red-powdered skin, this maternity figure seems to have once carried an ax and a cup, wooden imitations of the two most important chiefly attributes. Perhaps together with a male counterpart, it was secretly kept inside the ritual house, serving as a guardian of the chief’s treasure. Its style places it in the westernmost corner of Pendeland, between the Lutshima and Kwilu rivers.
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