B3L5S054S.jpg (27286 bytes)B3L5S054.jpg (27578 bytes)Luba (Baluba, Kaluba, Louba, Uruwa, Waluba, Warua), Democratic Republic of the Congo

Female bowl bearer (Mboko). The art of one million Luba counts amongst the finest that Africa has to offer. It has had enormous influence over neighboring peoples. A sculpted representation of a woman holding a bowl is an important component of a diviner’s regalia. A Luba diviner may sometimes identify this female figure as the wife of the diviner’s possessing spirit, and during consultations he poses it beside him, to his left, while his own wife takes her place at his right. The figure is thought to have diverse powers, including curative capabilities: the diviner may mix a pinch of chalk from the figure bowl with medicinal substances that he dispenses to patients. The chalk itself is considered to be an empowering material associated with purity, renewal, and the spirit world. The figure is also reputed to have oracular power: it serves as a mouthpiece for the spirit, and is capable of traveling from one locale to another to gather evidence on suspected criminals.

Material: wood

Size: H. 10”, W.3”, D. 3”