Late 19th to early 20th century

Object Place: Democratic Republic of Congo


43.18 cm (17 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


Africa and Oceania



The vital role of women in the structure and expansion of Luba influence is suggested by female caryatid stools, which may have featured centrally in investiture ceremonies. Women were linked to Luba legitimacy, and they served as emissaries to and diplomatic figures in surrounding chiefdoms when Luba suzerainty expanded over large parts of southeastern Congo. This kneeling figure’s polished form and quiet expression embody the serenity of a bearer of authority. The four-lobed coiffure and scarification are indicative of beauty and rank, while the enlarged hands are reminiscent of the Buli style.


Bryce P. Holcombe (d. 1983), New York [see note]; to Pace Primitive and Ancient Art, New York (stock no. 51-7913); June 19, 1986, sold by Pace to William and Bertha Teel, Marblehead, MA; 1994, year-end gift of William and Bertha Teel to the MFA. (Accession Date: January 25, 1995)

NOTE: Director of Pace Primitive and Ancient Art until his death in 1983.

Credit Line

Gift of William E. and Bertha L. Teel