Skip Navigation

Bow Stand (Nsakakabemba)

Arts of Africa

On View: African Storage Annex, East Gallery, 1st Floor
The great mythical hero of Luba kingship, Mbidi Kiluwe, was a famous hunter whose most cherished possession was his bow. Bow stands therefore symbolize chiefly authority and are associated with elaborate rituals and restrictions. They are never displayed in public and are guarded by a female dignitary who provides prayers and sacrifices. The female figure on this bow stand holds her hands to her chest, a gesture that refers both to the Luba idea that women guard the secrets of royalty within their breasts and to that of devotion to the spirit world.
DATES 19th century
DIMENSIONS 29 1/4 x 13 1/4 x 5 1/2 in. (74.3 x 33.7 x 14 cm) Other: 29 1/8 x 13 3/8in. (74 x 34cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in African Storage Annex, East Gallery, 1st Floor
CREDIT LINE Museum Expedition 1922, Robert B. Woodward Memorial Fund
You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this three-dimensional work in accordance with a Creative Commons license. Fair use, as understood under the United States Copyright Act, may also apply.

Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please contact (charges apply).

For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress, Cornell University, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, and Copyright Watch.

For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright.

If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact
CAPTION Possibly Luba. Bow Stand (Nsakakabemba), 19th century. Wood, 29 1/4 x 13 1/4 x 5 1/2 in. (74.3 x 33.7 x 14 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Expedition 1922, Robert B. Woodward Memorial Fund, 22.1345. Creative Commons-BY
IMAGE overall, 22.1345_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Standing female figure arms bent hands resting between breasts. Scarification on abdomen and elaborate headdress. There is a three pronged projection carved with patterns at top of head. Condition: Chipped and cracked.
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome any additional information you might have.