A Fabulous OLD hand carved Ancestor or Fertility figure from the Hemba or Eastern Luba Tribe dating to the early 1900's. The figure has a superb aged patina and stands 14" in height. In lovely condition bar a stress crack on base and a few of old borer holes. The Hemba language belongs to a group of related languages spoken by people in a belt that runs from southern Kasai to northeastern Zambia. Other peoples speaking related languages include the Luba of Kasai and Shaba, the Kanyok, Songye, Kaonde, Sanga, Bemba and the people of Kazembe. Today the Hemba people live in the north of Zambia, and their language is understood throughout Zambia. Some also live in Tanzania. They live west of Lake Tanganyika and Lake Mweru in the DRC, and their villages are found several hundred miles up the Lualaba River. The Hemba people migrated eastward to the Lualaba valley from the Luba empire, probably some time after 1600. They traded salt for iron hoes made in the Luba heartland, and wore raphia cloth that came by way of the Luba from the Songye people further to the west. At the time of the eastward expansion of the Luba Kingdom under King Ilunga Sungu around 1800, Hemba people were living in a territory bounded by the Lukuga River in the north, the Luvua River in the south and the Lualaba River to the west. The lower Lukuga and the Lualaba provided natural lines of communication, and the river valleys were densely populated. During Ilunga Sungu's rule the southern Hemba became tributaries to the Luba. They were headed by a "fire king", who symbolically represented the Luba king. The Hemba fire kingdom cut its links to the Luba empire after Ilunga Sungu died. His successor, Kumwimbe Ngombe, had to fight several campaigns to recover the eastern territories. Kumwimbe created a client state that united the Hemba villages of the Lukushi River valley, and that played an important role in preserving Luba dominance over other small states in the region. Later the Hemba regained their independence, but were subject to attacks by Arab slave traders in the later part of the nineteenth century, and then to colonization by the Belgians.
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