Singiti – Hemba Male Ancestor Figure

hemba ancestor figure
Hemba Ancestor Figure - © Sotheby's

This serene and dignified figure was carved in the southern Hemba Niembo chiefdoms, east of the Lualaba River and north of the Luika. Carved from iroko – the iroko wood is believed to possess supernatural properties.

Singiti is a representation of male ancestral figure of the Hemba people in Democratic Republic of the Congo. Death is the final event in life, and is celebrated by the same important rites of passage that mark every significant transition in the life of an individual. The Hemba place singiti in small huts to protect it from the rain, and represented the ancestors of the family.

The memory of the deceased may be preserved and the living may appeal to the spirit of the deceased to act as intercessor with the spirits of nature to secure their blessings.


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