height: 7 1/16 in.
Raymond and Laura Wielgus Collection, Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University
Wielgus Gallery, Art of Africa, Oceania, and Indigenous Art of the Americas, Henry Radford Hope Wing, 3rd floor
The wearer of this ivory pendant would have inserted a cord through the hole near the top just beneath the figure’s head to wear the amulet, a small protection-giving object, on the neck, waist, or arm. An artist in Luba society, in present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo, made this amulet. While we don’t know when this ivory amulet was made, figural representations of women in ivory amulets typically honor deceased relatives. Other Luba figural arts that depict women reflect women’s importance in Luba society. Worn close to the body, the amulet points to the relationship between art, body adornment, and protective qualities. This particular amulet is designed in an unusual form, suggesting that Luba peoples may have created it for use by neighboring peoples.