Richly illustrated monograph of 20th-century Babembe sculpture devoted to family ancestors. This book provides the first investigation into the symbolic artistic work of the Bembe, or Babembe, in Swahili; people who live on the banks of Lake Tanganyika in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Analysis of their illustrated works allows the principal characteristics of their art to be defined. The anthropomorphic statues they carve in wood are often characterized by incisions representing tattoos, scarifications or skin decorations that the Babembe use to embellish their bodies during initiation ceremonies. At times these artworks are adorned with pieces of fabric, tools made of horn or stone jewels, and often featuring eyes made from faience or shell. The selected sculptures, many of which have never been published before, are drawn from public and private collections. They have been chosen for their aesthetic qualities, and for the different typology. Each artwork was conceived to represent the spirits of the ancestors, a link between the individual who commissioned the work and supernatural forces of the Babembe's animist religion.
Raould Lehuard studied at the Aecole pratique des Hautes Aetudes (Sorbonne, Paris). An expert in the art of the peoples of the Congo, he is the founder of the magazine Arts d'Afrique noire. Daniel Klein, a collector of African and Precolumbian art, is one of the creators of the new museum of Precolumbian archaeology (the Casa del Alabado) in Quito. For 5 Continents he curated the volume Ecuador: The Secret Art of Precolumbian Ecuador.