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Kusu Chief's Stools

Most of the Kusu historical background is shared with the Nkutshu and Tetela all of whom came from the northwest. The Kusu moved north through Luba, Songye, and Hemba territory, acquiring social customs and learning artistic styles along the way. Once they arrived at their new location, in the Congo, now Zaire they split into two major factions divided into north and south—they then further divided into smaller groups, which remain largely separated and independent to this day due to their geographic isolation. The small Kusu villages are further divided into castes in which the blacksmiths are influential. There is no supreme chief who oversees all of the Kusu. Instead there are a series of village leaders who inherit their positions of power. Kusu religious practice has been greatly influenced by their neighbors. They recognize a supreme being (Vilie) and share a common belief in the power of the ancestors, despite their geographical differences. They worship various nature spirits, recognize ancestor cults that have been borrowed from the Hemba and the Luba, and fashion and use powerful magical figures similar to those found among the Songye. There is an initiation society, which is primarily aimed at educating people about the evils of witchcraft, and there are also diviners that are consulted for matters of importance. Much of Kusu sculpture is comparable to their neighbors, from the Luba chief's stools and Songye-like power figures, to the Hemba-influenced ancestor figures. These beautifully carved stools crated by the Kusu are reserved for the chief and village elders. The Kusu have shown a procivity for geometrical design using sharp edged and round curve technique materfully!

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