"According to Alisa LaGamma, in ""Heroic Africans: Legendary Leaders, Iconic Sculptures"", prior to the arrival of the colonials, the cohesion of the family was the primary value of the Hemba people. The group’s identity was based in the concept of lineage, and specifically, familial lineage. Political leadership and spiritual practice was based upon “ancestral devotion”. Arguably, leadership lineage among chiefs was an expression of this tribal value. To commemorate the image and memory of a former male chief, the Hemba carved figures such as this large and impressive statue, known as singiti. The ownership of one of these carved figures demonstrated the connection to the previous authority, thereby legitimizing the authority and status of the existing chief. Singiti were not rigidly sculpted portraits completed at or before the death of the chief in whose image a figure was made, but the result of the interpretation of imaging and vision that came in dreams. A fine summation of the meaning of the statues is provided by LaGamma, “As the cherished importance of each pre-colonial leader, the sculptures not only validated chiefly authority but also provided aspirational exemplars of how that role should be fulfilled, reflecting the profound nature of the relationship between a new chief and his precursors.” (Heroic Africans, p. 228) This figure is stylistically consistent with most Hemba commemorative figures in its overt emphasis on the head, shoulders, and sloping torso. =A stature of dignity was of primary importance to the Hemba. The beautiful design of the hair reflects the status of the ancestor in the social order and the cross shape on the hairpiece was worn by men and women who lived on the banks of the Lukuga River. The figure has a presence that is expressed through its firm, strong shoulder structure, curved, sloping torso, widened legs, and well-balanced neck, face and wrapped hair. A major figure, this auction moment presents an opportunity to acquire an important Hemba figure of significant size and strong provenance for a very reasonable price. And the bids are in US dollars, not euro €...so have at it! "
Ex. Galerie Olivier Larroque, Nimes, France; Ex. Private French Collection