Property from the Collection of Charles Edwards, Cincinnati
LULUWA FIGURE, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
Height: 6 in (15.2 cm)
Father Gambier, apostolic prefect of the Upper Kasai, collected in situ circa 1910
Jean-Willy Mestach, Brussels
Irwin Hersey, New York, acquired from the above in the late 1960s
Charles Edwards, Cincinnati, acquired from the above on March 1, 1977
This distinctive pose, characteristic of Luluwa statuary signifies "a hunter exhaling cannabis smoke on the statue to promote the success of the hunt" (Binkley and Darish, Kuba, Milan, 2009, p. 126). The origin of hemp usage by the Luluwa people harkens back to the great chief Kalamba Mukenge (circa 1835-1899), who in an effort to curb the over-consumption of palm wine by his people, ordered the existing palm trees razed. As a preferable alternative, he encouraged the smoking of hemp. A ritual culture grew out of this hemp usage, which became particularly associated with hunting. Statuettes such as the present example were fastened to the girdles of hunters and were meant to provide good fortune towards a successful kill (Kerchache, Paudrat and Stephan, African Art, New York, 1988, p. 580).