Lot: 108

Large ancestor figure of a tribal chief "singiti"

D. R. Congo, Hemba, Nkuvu Style

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
René Rickli, Olten, Switzerland
H: 48.6 inch 8500 EUR / 25000 EUR

wood, fabric, sacrificial traces, base The main accent of this figure lies on the big head with its beautiful clear-cut and even, almost Cubist-looking facial features. For the head, as the source of wisdom, was of paramount importance to the Hemba, as was the navel, which was considered to be the point of connection with the ancestors. These figures were commissioned by senior chiefs to show their connection to the common ancestral history. But not every Hemba chief was honored with such a depiction. Such commissions were divinely sanctioned when a sitting chief was visited in a dream by one of his predecessors and this was interpreted as a sign that a "singiti" figure should be carved in that individual’s honor. Like many of the famous ancestral figures of the Hemba, these royal figures are understood as a symbol of classical African art.


Neyt, Francois, La Grande Statuaire Hemba du Zaire, Louvain-la-Neuve 1977, p. 240
Schädler, Karl-Ferdinand, Afrika, Maske und Skulptur, Olten 1989, ill. 99