The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of February 26, 2024

Female Bowl-Bearing Figure (lid)

Female Bowl-Bearing Figure (lid)

late 1800s-early 1900s

Did You Know?

It is rare for a Luba-style bowl bearer figure to still have its lid.


This lid is part of a bowl-bearing figure. In Luba-style art, an object's beauty affects how well it works. While bowl-bearing figures had many possible uses, a royal diviner likely used this well-carved image of a woman carrying a bowl in rituals. Dusty traces of mpemba (white chalk) fleck the shining exterior and the bowl's interior, showing it once held this sacred powder. Diamond-shaped scarification marks at her waist, chest, and back add to her beauty. Her hair is carved into the cascading layered hairstyle worn in the Luba region at the turn of the twentieth century. Strands of imported glass beads encircle her waist and neck, and dangle from her hair. The alternating white and blue beads may symbolize the moon and Mbidi Kiluwe, a culture hero linked to royal practice and smithing. While much Luba-style art depicts women—who are societally important—men created and owned the majority of such works.
  • ?-1939
    Gaston Heenen [1880-1963], Brussels, BE, 1939, sold to Hendrik Elias.
    (Hendrik Elias [b. 1925], Galerie Elmar, Wieze, BE, 1968, sold to René and Odette Delenne)
    René [1901-1998] and Odette Delenne [1925-2012], Brussels, BE, 2010, sold to the Cleveland Museum of Art.
    The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH, 2010
  • Antwerpen, Stad Stedelijke Feestzaal, and Antwerpsche Propagandaweken. Tentoonstelling van Kongo-Kunst, cat. 669. Exh. Cat. Antwerp: Antwerpsche Propagandaweken, December 24, 1937-January 16, 1938. Mentioned: cat. 669.
    Olbrechts, Frans M. Plastiek van Kongo. Antwerp/Brussels/Ghent/Leuven: Standaards-Boekhandel, 1946. Reproduced: pl. 108
    Olbrechets, Frans M., Constantine Petridis, and Daniel P. Biebuyck. Frans M. Olbrechts (1899-1958): In Search of Art in Africa, cat. 53. Exh. Cat. Antwerp: Ethnographic Museum, December 7, 2001-March 31, 2002. Reproduced and mentioned: [p. 165] cat. 53
    Petridis, Constantine. "René and Odette Delenne." In Tribal Art XV-4, no. 61 (Autumn 2011): 119. Reproduced: p. 119, fig. 4; mentioned: p. 122
    Petridis, Constantine, et al. Fragments of the Invisible: The René and Odette Delenne Collection of Congo Sculpture. Cleveland, OH: Cleveland Museum of Art. Milan: 5 Continents Editions, 2013, 30, 79, 82-83, 108. Mentioned: pp. 30, 79-80, 108, 114 ; reproduced: p. 82-83, cat. 26
    Petridis, Constantine. "Inscriptions: Establishing a Pre-1937 Acquisition Date for 1,525 Central African Sculptures." Tribal: The Magazine of Tribal Art XXIV: 4, no. 85 (Autumn, 2017): 127, 130-131. p. 127, p. 130 color repr., p. 131 sketch
  • Fragments of the Invisible: The Rene and Odette Delenne Collection of Congo Sculpture. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH (organizer) (October 27, 2013-February 9, 2014).
    Frans M. Olbrechts (1899-1958): In Search of Art in Africa. Ethnographic Museum, Antwerp, BE (December 7, 2001-March 31, 2002)
    Tentoonstelling van Kongo-Kunst. Stad Stedelijke Feestzaal, Antwerp, BE (December 24, 1937-January 16, 1938)
  • {{cite web|title=Female Bowl-Bearing Figure (lid)|url=false|author=|year=late 1800s-early 1900s|access-date=26 February 2024|publisher=Cleveland Museum of Art}}

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