On offer from our personal collection is this sensitive kabwelulu, consisting of a carved female half-figure atop a gourd/calabash base, from the Luba peoples of the DR Congo. Used in initiation rituals, power items would be placed & stored inside the gourd, & the kabwelulu's power would gradually increase over time.
With fertility a primary concern for the perpetuity of tribal life, the female form is a favorite theme in Luba sculpture. In this beautifully carved piece, the figure strikes a traditional pose of presenting breasts. Her face is characterized by an expression of quiet dignity & composure. Her torso features distinctive scarification patterns, & her neck bears a number of neck-rings. A complex coiffure adds to the overall grace & elegance of the piece. The figure is secured to the gourd with twisted fibers & a mud/clay substance, then stitched around the top of the gourd. Attached to the piece are power items including snail shells & feathers. A special reed-wrapped ring is attached to the bottom of the gourd, permitting the piece to stand upright unassisted.
Overall condition: very good; minor abrasions; evidence of old insect damage (arrested). Wonderful old patina. A very special piece, infused with deep spirit... Would be an excellent addition to any serious ethnographic collection.