1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Ba-Luba

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BA-LUBA, a Bantu negroid race with several subdivisions; one of the most important and cultivated peoples of Central Africa. They are distributed over eight degrees of longitude between Lakes Tanganyika, Mweru and Bangweulu in the east, and the Kasai in the west. In the east, where they are found in the greatest racial purity, they founded the states of Katanga, Urua and Uguha; in the west they have intermixed to some extent with the Ba-Kete aborigines, whom they have partially dispossessed, dividing them into two portions, one to the north, the other to the south. To the western Ba-Luba the name Ba-Shilange has been given. With the Ba-Luba are connected the founders of the great Lunda empire—now divided between Belgian Congo and Angola—ruled by a monarch entitled Muata Yanvo (Jamvo). The westward movement of the Ba-Luba took place in comparatively recent times, the end of the 18th century or the beginning of the 19th. Shortly afterwards a chief named Kalamba Mukenge founded a large state. There followed in 1870 a remarkable politico-religious revolution, the result of which was the establishment of a cult of hemp-smoking, connected with a secret society termed Bena Riamba; the members of this abandoned their old fetish worship and adopted a form of communism of which the central idea was the blood-brotherhood of all the members. Towards the east hemp-smoking becomes less common.

The Ba-Luba practise circumcision and scar-tattooing is common; tooth-filing is very frequent in the east, though in the west it is comparatively rare; the fashion of dressing the hair is very varied and often extremely fantastic. Their houses, which are built by the women, are rectangular; on the Lulua, however, pile-houses, square in shape, are found. They are an agricultural people, but work in the fields is relegated to the women and slaves; the men are admirable craftsmen and are renowned for their wood-carving, cloth-weaving and iron-work. In the west, bows and arrows are the chief weapons, in the east spears principally are used. The old form of religion still obtains in the east, which was untouched by the communistic movement mentioned, and charms of all sorts, as well as carved anthropomorphic figures, are extremely common. The Ba-Luba are a fine race physically and seem very prosperous, though in the extreme west considerable deterioration, physical, moral and cultural, has taken place.