Exhibitions/ Art Object

Female Mboko Bowl Bearer

19th century
Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lukuga River region
Luba peoples, Middle Lukaga Workshop
Wood, iron
H: 12 5/8 in. (32 cm)
Credit Line:
The University of Pennsylvania Museum, Philadelphia
Not on view
Luba representations of female bowl bearers served as instruments of personal divination, and in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were primarily considered symbols of sacred office. Like the seat of office exhibited nearby, such female images allude to the potent relationship between women and Luba kingship, and the importance of communication with the spirit world in the context of divination and healing. Only a few works have been attributed to what has been described by scholars as the Middle Lukuga Workshop. Distinctive for their oblong faces, wide foreheads, downturned arched eyebrows, straight noses, and overall softly carved features, these figures show the influence of the neighboring Hemba peoples.
Joseph Van den Boogaerde, Enghien-les-Bains, before 1913-1916; Charles Vignier, Paris, before 1919; Marius de Zayas, New York, 1919