Collections: Arts of Africa: Figure of a Mother Holding a Child (Lupingu lwa Cibola)

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    50.124_view2_SL4.jpg 50.124_SL1.jpg CUR.50.124_print_detail_front_bw.jpg 50.124_edited_version_SL1.jpg 50.124_right_side_detail_acetate_bw.jpg 50.124_threequarter_detail_acetate_bw.jpg

    Figure of a Mother Holding a Child (Lupingu lwa Cibola)

    Both of these very different Congolese works are deeply emotional expressions. One was commissioned to resolve a personal trama, while the other represents a viscerally remembered social upheaval from the colonial era.

    Figures like this mother and child were believed to offer protection, through the intervention of spirits, by the Bwanga Bwa Cibola society. When a woman lost successive children through miscarriages or early infant death, she could be initiated into the society to protect herself from ominous forces suspected to be the cause of the deaths. This emotionally gripping figure is considered to be one of the great masterpieces of African art.

    Tshibumba's painting depicts the slaughter of striking mineworkers in Lubumbashi at the order of the Belgian colonial government on December 9, 1941. The artist critiques the institutions complicit in the colonial system: Belgium (represented by the flag), the church, the mining company, the colonial governor (with arm raised), and the Congolese soldiers in the colonial army. Following independence in 1960, a market for narrative painting developed among urban Congolese who were working in mining factories and living in new, Western-style homes.

    This text refers to these objects: ' 50.124; 2010.1

    • Culture: Lulua
    • Medium: Wood, copper alloy, palm oil, camwood paste, organic materials
    • Place Made: Ndemba, West Kasai Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo
    • Dates: 19th century
    • Dimensions: 14 x 3 3/8 x 3 1/2 in. (35.6 x 8.6 x 8.9 cm)  (show scale)
    • Collections:Arts of Africa
    • Museum Location: This item is on view in Double Take Installation, East Gallery, 1st Floor
    • Exhibitions:
    • Accession Number: 50.124
    • Credit Line: Museum Collection Fund
    • Rights Statement: Creative Commons-BY
    • Caption: Lulua. Figure of a Mother Holding a Child (Lupingu lwa Cibola), 19th century. Wood, copper alloy, palm oil, camwood paste, organic materials, 14 x 3 3/8 x 3 1/2 in. (35.6 x 8.6 x 8.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Collection Fund, 50.124. Creative Commons-BY
    • Image: overall, 50.124_view2_SL4.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2014
    • Catalogue Description: A wood maternity figure of a woman holding a child which twists her arms. The face of the woman shows elaborate scarification. Below the chest the body is not well defined and narrows considerably. The navel is quite prominent but the remainder of the figure is like a staff. There is no indication of the legs etc. Condition: Good. From the waist down there is no body.
    • Record Completeness: Best (91%)
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    Recent Comments
    07:17 06/10/2011

    I am a Lulua woman here
    a mediator between worlds:
    O make me fertile
    give me a child
    make my child live
    long and well

    so that you shall
    smile on me
    with such gifts
    as I ask of you
    I shall place one figure
    in my home
    and one I shall carry with me

    so that you
    shall allow these things
    I ask of you
    I shall be mindful each day;
    and I shall pour oil
    on the figure
    and wipe red clay
    and this I shall do

    I am a Lulua woman here
    a mediator between worlds:
    O make me fertile
    give me a child
    make my child live
    long and well

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