Photographs © Tim Hamill
7.75" high x 7.5" wide x 3" deep
Most Luba art relates to kings and important chiefs, who defined their power by the display of prestige objects during important ceremonies. Headrests were more personal, and were used primarily to support the neck, preserving the elaborate hair styles traditional among the Luba people. Motifs included figures, pairs of figures, a figure on horseback, etc. The user was literally as well as figuratively supported by the carved figures, which also symbolized the continuity of power in a matrilineal society. Elaborate coiffures and scarification patterns attested to the high rank of both the depicted figure and the owner of the headrest.
Despite its appearance, this headrest shows little evidence of age or use and was probably made to be sold.
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