Richly illustrated, this monograph is the first devoted to the work of the Babembe people. Their anthropomorphic statues, carved from wood, are characterized by incisions representing tattoos, scarifications, or skin decorations that the Babembe use during initiation ceremonies. These striking works, many of which have never been published before, are adorned with fabric, tools made of horn or stone jewels, and eyes made from faience or shell.
The works represent ancestral spirits who link the sculpture’s commissioner with supernatural forces of the Babembe’s animist religion. Here, scholars analyze the aesthetic quality, style, and meaning of each fascinating sculpture.