Lot: 33

Janiform magical figure "kabeja"

D. R. Congo, Luba-Hemba

Provenance Size Hammer price
Galerie Lemaire, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Ludwig Bretschneider, Munich, Germany
German Private Collection (1987)
H: 10.6 inch 1100 EUR

wood, pigments, insect caused damage, base

Janus figures "kabeja" always represent a male and a female figure, joined back-to-back, and sharing a single cavity on top of their heads for insertion of magical mass.

They are seen as visual icon of the primordial couple, the founders of the society ("abeja" = woman, "makua" = man).

The "kabeja" is the fundamental object of the Hemba cult, including the cult of ancestors. Whether administering justice or making an offering to the ancestors these Janus "kabeja" were always present.

They are owned by the clan head known as the "fumu mwela".


Neyt, Francois, La Grande Statuaire Hemba du Zaire, Louvain-la-Neuve 1977, p. 486, ill. 82

ADHRC: 0029451