Divination Vessel: Seated Female Figure (Mboko)

Luba peoples

Not on view

Designed to forecast future events, this bowl bearer—known as a mboko (the name for the sacred vessel held by the figure)—is a vivid example of how knowledge and divination are visualized in Luba culture. Luba bowl figures commemorate the first mythical Luba diviner, Mijibu wa Kalenga, and were primarily the preserve of royal diviners, who used them as oracles. More recently, such works have also been commissioned by rulers for use as containers filled with sacred chalk, an empowering material associated with purity, renewal, and the spirit world. Mboko are thus icons of royal authority and legitimacy; their ownership by both types of patrons points to the historic relationship between divination and the origins of the Luba state.

Divination Vessel: Seated Female Figure (Mboko), Wood, Luba peoples

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