An ethnic tribal Luba comb with figural female head carving
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 9 ins h x 3 ins w (23 x 7.5 cm) decorative part 4½ ins h (11 cm)
An antique Luba ornamental hair comb with a hand carved beautiful female figure.
Handmade by Luba people of the Democratic Republic of Congo, neighbouring Zambia, south-central Africa.
This splendid hardwood comb is artistically handmade with characteristics of Luba sculpture, such as intricate and distinctive elegant relief carved hair-dress and small simplified ears. The surface has been elaborately worked and polished. The figure is carved with two faces, the back and front being identical.
African art is not just something created to be hung on a wall and viewed from a distance. In Africa art is utilitarian and an integral part of daily life. The most common objects have meaning and purpose which turns them into what in the West we call art. Throughout Africa, the comb has moved beyond its traditional functional use and taken on major cultural significance. Combs are used for greetings, initiation and ritual activities, and passed on through generations as prestigious and powerful objects.
In Africa, art was seldom used for decorative purposes, but rather to give life to the values, emotions and daily customs of the various ethnic groups throughout the continent. In many instances African art and culture deals with making sense out of the world. It also deals with the religious aspects of life. It includes ritual and ceremonial objects, items used daily, adornments showing status or tribe and representations of those things in life which defy explanation. Almost every piece of African art represents a cultural value or belief.
Research shows the importance of women in Luba arts, where many cultural objects include the female form. The representation is also significant since the Luba trace descent through the female line. In traditional Luba culture, only women are deemed strong enough to guard the profound secrets of royalty, and it is within their breasts that they protect the royal prohibitions upon which sacred kingship depends. Only women, who have the potential be become pregnant and produce new life, are strong enough to hold powerful spirits and the secret knowledge associated with them. Because of the emphasis on women, Luba objects were usually the property of men of noble status.
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African hair comb Luba people wooden carved hair ornament