Katanga, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Mid to late 19th century
H: 73.5 cm, W: 19.0 cm, D: 11.0 cm (H: 28.9 in, W: 7.4 in, D: 4.3 in)
Gift of the Wellcome Trust. X65.7489
Bow stands created by nineteenth-century Luba sculptors and blacksmiths recall royal history, specifically the bow carried by Mbidi Kiluwe, the celebrated hunter and founder of the Luba dynastic line. Originally functional, Luba bow stands eventually became symbols of royal authority and cultural memory and were among the most sacred objects in the treasuries of Luba kings and chiefs. Rules and regulations are encoded in the form of incised geometric patterns on the bow stand, which are also references to female scarification patterns. Women were considered to be the sacred custodians of Luba esoteric knowledge.
Gallery Text, Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives, 2006