The Lulua are a patrilineal Bantu-speaking people who inhabit a vast region in the province of West Kasai in the south central DRC. Lulua art is very personal and has little relation to neighboring styles. The subjects are men, women, and mother-and-child-groups. The body is covered with elaborate scarification marks. Body decoration is a peculiar trait of Lulua sculpture, and echoes a cosmetic practice widespread among the women of the upper class. Figures of mothers with children or of pregnant women, like this one, are associated with the fertility cult, and were sculpted for mothers who had aborted or had continually lost children on the suggestion of the priest-healer, in order to encourage normal pregnancies. The tattoos, considered signs of beauty, indicated the high position of woman in society.
Present sculpture is graced with very elaborate tattos - on its forehead and on its back, abdomen. It is a very fine example of Lulua sculpture.
Provenance: Raskin Private Collection