LUBA PRESTIGE AXE, KIBIKI OR KASOLWA, MIDDLE LUVUA WORKSHOP, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
Wood, iron and brass
H. 38 cm - Blade length 26 cm
- Commandant Charles Liebrechts (1858-1938), collected in 1881
- René Withofs, Brussels
- Baudouin de Grunne, Brussels
- Bernard de Grunne, Brussels
- Private collection
- Primitive Arts, Théâtre National, Brussels, 1971
- Utotombo - The Art of Black Africa in the Belgian Private Collections, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, 25 March - 5 June 1988
- Luba - Aux Sources du Zaire, Musée Dapper, Paris, 25 November 1993 - 17 April 1994
- Genesis - Ideas of Origin in African Sculpture, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 19 November 2002 - 13 April 2003
- The Inner Eye: Vision and Transcendence in African Arts, LACMA, 26 February - 9 July 2017
- Adriaan Claerhout, Arts Primitifs, Brussels, Théâtre National, 1971, no. 42
- Gerald Berjonneau, and Jean-Louis Sonnery, Rediscovered Masterpieces of African Art, Boulogne, Art 135, 1987, p. 265, plate 264
- Luc et al De Heusch, Utotombo: Kunst uit Zwart-Afrika in Belgisch Privé-Bezit. Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, 1988, p. 233, no. 222
- Jacques Kerchache, Jean-Louis Paudrat and Lucien Stephan, L'Art Africain, L'Art et les Grandes Civilisations. 18, Paris, Editions Mazenod, 1988. English translation, Art of Africa, New York, Harry N. Abrams, 1993, n°1017
- François Neyt, Luba - Aux Sources du Zaire, Paris, Musée Dapper, 1993, p. 114
- Philippe Guimiot, Regard Sur une Collection, Brussels, Art et Objects Tribaux II, 1995, n°30
- Holland Cotter, A Show Bursting Out, New York Times, 22 November 2002
- Alisa LaGamma, Genesis, Ideas of Origin in African Sculpture. New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 2002, p. 50, no. 17
The importance and high degree of refinement of this regalia have led to it being shown in prestigious exhibitions. Widely published, it has belonged to renowned collectors.
The twite2 installed the king on the throne, a caryatid seat, took out of a raffia cloth a spear and an axe which he offered to the sovereign; the latter held them in his hand...
His words evoked the work of the blacksmiths, of his ancestors and their attachment to the kingdom'.
Metal objects reinforce the power of the king, no doubt on an economic level but also on a relational level. Metalwork is intimately linked to life and fertility'.
F. Neyt, Luba, Dapper, 1993, n°107.
The image of the woman in the Luba culture was of great importance because she was both the receptacle and the link with spiritual power. As for the royal wives, they played a primordial role in succession and the distribution of land, in particular.
In the continuity of these powers, the head of this axe is feminine, its slightly inclined face reveals both its interiority and its great sweetness of expression. The Luba style is an art made of curves with harmonious volumes, as shown here. Her cross-shaped headdress, decorated with a nail in its lower part, offers a very beautiful treatment. The head rests on a ringed neck, quite unusual on these axes, in the extension of the cylindrical handle thinned in its middle for the sake of elegance. The oval, domed base has an abstract decoration made of oblique striations engraved in relief and a set of brass nails with conical heads on the periphery. The thick iron blade has incisions intended to embellish it and thus evoke certain scarifications of Luba women.
Some big wear on the handle and the ears and the smooth brown-black patina of this regalia are the sign of an old and regular use which allows us to speak about a work very probably of the 19th century.
1- Commander Liebrechts is the author among other works with Lieutenant Th. Masué of the Guide of the section of the Independent State of Congo at the Exhibition of Brussels, Tervuren, 1897. He made several visits to the Congo between 1882 and 1889
2- The twite has a triple function, the main one being that of regent of the kingdom, as such he can sit on a mat.