Luba Artist, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Late nineteenth–early twentieth century
Wood, copper, and iron
Fred and Rita Richman Collection
Currently Not on View
In Luba culture, to make or hold an adze signifies royalty and power. This symbolism is derived from oral histories that describe how a mythological hero established kingship by introducing advanced metal-working, forever connecting the two. As a result, Luba blacksmiths are highly regarded, as in many African cultures. They are respected for their secret knowledge and expert metal-working skills, derived from the founding hero himself. The tools and products of blacksmiths play significant roles in investiture rituals for Luba kings as well as in many other ceremonies and events.