seated female figure holding a vessel, Kabila figure

Figure, c. 1900



Gift of David and Sara Liebermanexpand_more  2001.198.37a,b

Luba artists most frequently carved female figures. Women held a strong position in Luba society and performed a variety of social, spiritual and political roles. They were associated with sacred ceremonies and the ancestors and were believed to have protective and rejuvenative power. This sculpture, called a kabila or mboko, represents a kneeling woman with a vessel in her lap. Her high status is indicated by her elaborate coiffure and body scarification. Another carved woman's head adorns the lid of the vessel, reinforcing the importance of the feminine image. Kabila sculptures were used in divination ceremonies and were also associated with pregnant women and helping with childbirth.

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seated female figure holding a vessel, Kabila figure