African Art: a prestigious Swiss collection

Milan, Wednesday 14 October 2020


Hemba (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Wood with a dark coating
H 35 cm
Magic object.
South-eastern region of the Congo marked by the course of the rivers Lualaba and Lomami.
Called Mabwe Lugullu, this magic object was used for divinatory purposes by the members of the secret society Magabc.It represents a female figure framed upon a spheroid shell of vegetable origin. The sculpture is wrapped with dried animal skin to which thick snail shells have been applied.Despite its small dimensions, the various parts of the body have been depicted in the rounded style that characterises the craft of the Hemba group. The face is sculpted with a broad forehead, a protruding mouth, narrow eyes, wide ears and braided hair gathered at the back. Her arms, away from her body, end with her hands resting on her breasts. The stomach highlights the classic tattoos present on Hemba figures.


€ 8.000 - 10.000

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- George F. Keller antique collection (New York / Davos) (Inv. G.F.K. number illegible);
- Former Paolo Morigi collection (Lugano);
- Former private collection (Lugano);


- Berna 1980, Musée des Beaux Arts;
- Lugano 2002, Palazzo Riva, Banca Svizzera Italiana (BSI);


Reproduced in:
- MORIGI PAOLO “Raccolta di un amatore d’arte primitiva” Magliaso, Lugano & Kunstmuseum Bern, Switzerland 1980, figures 295A e 295B, pages 334 and 335;
- VENTURI LUCA M. “Anime antiche, arte negra, da una raccolta di sculture dell’Africa occidentale” BSI Bank, Lugano 2002, figure 47;

- FELIX MARK LEO “100 Peoples of Zaire and their sculpture: Hemba, pages 34-35” Brussels 1987;
- FAGG WILLIAM “La sculpture africaine de Eliot Elisofon” London 1958, pages 231, number 297;
 - DELANGE JACQUELINE & LEIRIS MICHEL “Africa nera” Milan 1967, figure. 272;
- NEYT FRANCOIS & DE STRYCKER LOUIS “Approche des arts Hemba” Villiers-le Bel, France 1975, page 53;


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