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Water Pipe

Arts of Africa

This large, extraordinarily beautiful example of a rare Luba water pipe undoubtedly belonged to a person of high status. The female figure holding her breasts is the most common motif in Luba art. The gesture symbolizes respect, nurturing, and the role of women as mothers. The representation of a woman is also significant because the Luba trace descent from the female line. The figure’s elaborate scarification and hairstyle indicate she is a woman of wealth and high social rank.
MEDIUM Wood, leather, clay
DATES 19th century
DIMENSIONS 23 x 3 3/4 x 9 in. (58.4 x 9.5 x 22.9 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
CREDIT LINE Brooklyn Museum Collection
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Carved wooden water pipe and bowl straddled by a beautifully carved female figure with elongated torso. Body symbolically cicatrized in traditional style. Modelled arms with hands below small breasts; columnar neck surmounted by carefully carved head; coiffure bound up in cross-shaped framework. Wood worn and patinated; clay bowl has been repaired.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Luba. Water Pipe, 19th century. Wood, leather, clay, 23 x 3 3/4 x 9 in. (58.4 x 9.5 x 22.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Museum Collection, 22.1108a-b. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 22.1108a-b_PS2.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 22.1108a-b_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2007
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