Representatives of the utilitarian objects of the Louba and Balouba ethnic groups of the Congo, the so-called “headrests” are novel for visitors who visit the room dedicated to Africa in the Matanzas Art Museum.
Yusef Hernández Delgado, conservation technician of the institution, which is located on Contreras Street, in the city of rivers and bridges, explained that the pieces of carved wood have the practical purpose of supporting the neck to avoid damaging hairstyles.
According to the blog Art of Antiquity with address https://rohuelatamaral.blogspot.com, also known as “headrest” emerged to protect the artistic hairstyles of women and men during the act of sleeping, are considered the headquarters of dreams assumed as prophecies that foresee important events.
The hair for the natives of the continent cradle of humanity has great spiritual significance. For many tribes of that region the soul is in the head, because they strive in their care and beautification.
The hairstyles in the African culture not only have aesthetic value, but also symbolic, can express information about social rank, marital status and age; the aspect is also associated with dignity, identity and status in accordance with the figure itself.
With a height ranging between 15 and 20 centimeters, the “headrest” are usually artistic sculpted figures, with a design mediated by the range and culture to which the owner belongs. In the case of one of those exhibited in the aforementioned museum, the use of beads to adorn the carved human effigies can be seen.
Good state of preservation distinguishes the objects that in the number 28 007 of Contreras street show people who embrace or shake their hands, as if to join forces and better resist the weight of dreamers and dreams.
Very close to the “headrest” are also masks, drums and statuettes that make up a valuable collection donated by Lorenzo Padilla, a Cuban artist living in France who has become a benefactor of the institution.
Ancient ethnic groups such as Yoruba, Punu, Yaka, Kuba, Bamileke and Fang are represented in objects used in countries such as Nigeria, Cameroon, Angola, Liberia and Mozambique, now sheltered in the so-called Athens of Cuba.
At the end of the tour, for the visitor who recognizes the cultural value of what was legitimized useful with everyday use, it is inevitable not to be curious to know who reclined in the capricious statuettes on which, in the Museum of Art of Matanzas, now heads do not rest, but history and many looks.