Exhibitions: African Innovations

Mother Holding Child

This Lulua maternity figure has a particularly ethereal delicacy and grace, and is considered to be one of the great masterpieces of African art. When a woman lost successive children through miscarriages or early infant death, the Lulua suspected ominous forces. For assistance, she could be initiated into the Bwanga Bwa Cibola society, which used figures such as this one to offer protection through the intervention of spirits. Society members rubbed the figure daily with a mixture of oil and clay, giving it a glossy surface.