Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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4 / Ceremony and Society

Artist / Origin Attributed to the Buli Master, Luba, Democratic Republic of Congo
Region: Africa
Date 19th century
Material Wood, metal studs
Medium: Sculpture
Dimensions H: 24 in. (61 cm.)
Location The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Credit Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art/Photo by Max Yawni

expert perspective

Christa ClarkeSenior Curator of Arts of Africa and the Americas, Newark Museum
Mary Nooter RobertsProfessor of Culture and Performance, University of California, Los Angeles


» Attributed to the Buli Master, Luba, Democratic Republic of Congo

expert perspective

Christa Clarke Christa Clarke Senior Curator of Arts of Africa and the Americas, Newark Museum

The Luba are today—many people would refer to the Luba as a kingdom. There is a centralized society that existed in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo since about the seventeenth century, I believe, until the early twentieth century, and still continues today as there are Luba chieftaincies.

The men are usually the ones who are typically in political office among the Luba, but the art forms overwhelmingly represent women, and part of that is because women played an important role in expanding the kingdom by being married to outlying chiefs. And also, women are believed to be repositories of spiritual power that basically infuses the political system of the Luba. And there are women who have certain roles in Luba royalty where they guard secrets of kingship, for instance. And so you see women featured on staffs, you see women featured on stools. And all of these art forms are used for investiture ceremonies and are one of the ways these ceremonies reinforce the role of women as not only nurturer, but also as supporter of an important political system.” 


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