Bena Lulua Kneeling Figure
Bena Lulua Kneeling Figure Region: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania Notes:
OBJECT TYPE: Shrine Object MATERIALS: Wood OBJECT ORIGIN: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Bena Lulua People DIMENSIONS: H: 11.41 x W: 4 x L: 4.8 in.
Step into the mystic world of the Bena Lulua Kneeling Figure, a spiritual shrine object that transcends its material form to embody the essence of prayer, status, and cultural richness. Originating from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, specifically the Bena Lulua people, this artifact is a testament to the artistic finesse and symbolic depth of its creators.
Crafted from wood and standing at a dimension of H: 11.41 x W: 4 x L: 4.8 inches, this shrine object serves as a captivating window into the spiritual practices of the Bena Lulua people. The intricate patterns of scarification adorning the dense wood reveal the craftsmanship of a people deeply connected to their artistic heritage. The figure, depicting a woman in a kneeling posture, carries the weight of symbolism that transcends the tangible realm.
In the nuanced details of this artifact, one can discern the representation of a woman of importance and high status within the Bena Lulua community. The meticulous scarification patterns, an art form in themselves, speak to the cultural significance of body adornment among the Bena Lulua people. The figure’s pierced ears suggest the presence of earrings, a once-worn embellishment that further underscores the woman’s elevated status.
The centerpiece of this shrine object is the bronze adornment jewel on the center of the forehead—a regal touch that amplifies the power and serenity emanating from the figure. This adornment is not merely ornamental; it is a visual testament to the spiritual and symbolic language woven into the cultural fabric of the Bena Lulua people. It speaks of a woman who, in her supplication, acknowledges the ancestral forces, expressing gratitude for the care bestowed upon her family and children.
Dating back to the early 20th century, this Bena Lulua Kneeling Figure stands as a silent witness to the passage of time, preserving the spiritual resonance of its origins. As we contemplate its form, we are invited to immerse ourselves in the cultural context of the Lulua people, a heterogeneous group numbering approximately 300,000 along the Lulua River of the Congo.
The Lulua people, organized into chiefdom domains, embody a harmonious division of labor. While women are the backbone of agrarian activities, handling farming and land harvesting, men contribute to the community through building, hunting, and fishing. The chiefs, instrumental in providing judicial, political, and social cohesion, unite in times of emergency to select a king—a testament to their communal spirit and organizational resilience.
The kneeling figure, representing a royal and serenely powerful woman, encapsulates the gratitude and humility ingrained in the Bena Lulua cultural ethos. Kneeling in supplication to her ancestors, she bridges the earthly and spiritual realms, acknowledging the interconnectedness of life, family, and heritage. This shrine object, beyond its aesthetic allure, serves as a conduit to a bygone era, a visual poem echoing the narratives of the Bena Lulua people.
In unraveling the layers of symbolism within this artifact, one is drawn into the rich tapestry of the Bena Lulua culture—a tapestry woven with threads of spirituality, status, and familial reverence. As the figure kneels in eternal prayer, it beckons us to explore the profound meanings embedded in its form, inviting us to connect with the timeless legacy of the Bena Lulua people.