Memory: Luba Art and the Making of History Hardcover – March 1, 1996, Used - Good condition, Slight scratching/scuffing on dust jacket. Very nice clean, tight copy free of any marks.
Memory and history are always in tension, as people selectively choose memories to make histories that "prove" the legitimacy of their claims to power, prestige, and prerogative. If many African groups have created visual arts to assist in this process, Luba peoples of southeastern Zaire have done so brilliantly, with a stunning array of mnemonic devices ranging from memory boards to beaded emblems, wooden figures to body arts, ornamented staffs and axes to divination devices. The sculpted narratives of these objects and art forms are esoteric, and must be "read" by "men of memory" who have learned their precious skills through initiation to the Mbudye Society. Luba kings, royal titleholders, and outlying chiefs turn to them to interpret the mapped details of origin myths, protocol and prohibitions of the royal court, and other deeply encoded information.
The Luba kingdoms are among the most important in central Africa, whose refined royal arts have influenced people hundreds of miles beyond their own Heartland. Luba have an ancient heritage as well, that archaeologists trace back over one thousand years. Although Luba arts are well known for their astounding beauty, Memory: Luba Art and the Making of History is the first study of their intellectual complexity, aesthetic impact, and social contexts.