Lot: 216

Superb female bowl-bearing figure "mboko"

D. R. Congo, Luba - Shankadi

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
Morris J. Pinto (1925-2009), Geneva/Paris/New York, USA (1977)
Sotheby's, London, 9 May 1977, Lot 92
Loudmer-Poulain, Paris, 8 June 1978, Lot 318
Collection Fernand Lafarge (1920-2013), Amiens, France
Pierre Dartevelle, Brussels, Belgium
H: 14.2 inch;
L: 8.7 inch
50000 EUR / 100000 EUR

wood, This beautiful work with rich, partially shiny (sweaty) patina from the Luba-Shankadi region shows a striking cascade-shaped hairstyle and raised diamond-shaped scar marks on the upper body. The bowl has an old original repair. A kneeling female bowl-bearer called "mboko" is one of several important sculptural genres found throughout the wider area of Luba influence. Commonly placed before the house of a woman who has borne her first son, these works were also employed in divination contexts. The "mboko" figure is considered to be the abode of a spirit with whose help the diviner ("bilumbu") can heal patients. The bowl contains white kaolin ("mpemba") and medicinal herbs. With this mixture, the diviner smears his face to bring about the trance state and to facilitate the recognition of the causes of the illness and misfortune. The bowl carrier figures are used in ceremonies designed to honour the first mythical diviner "Mijibu wa Kalenga"; and his role as founder of the Luba kingdom. In this context, they also serve to confirm the authority of the king as leader.