Masks and Carvings of the Hemba

The Hemba are a Bantu ethnic group in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

 


Their exquisite artistic tradition is well known with subjects including ancestral figures, spirits, human faces and ceremonial masks


Extensive wooden sculptures are prominent in their crafts and are often used in religious and cultural ceremonies. The main Hemba sculptures are the Singiti and Kabeja. 

Singiti are symbols of natural authority. Kabeja are very unique carvings with one body and two faces, male and female, that represent the founding couple of a clan. Each clan has one that is owned by the chief. Groups, however, can own several singiti. 


The Hemba religion recognizes Vidiye Mukulu (a creator god) and Shimugabo (a supreme being). Worship is primarily carried out through sacrifices and offerings to ancestor shrines