The long hand of the sacred pool (lukasa)

Thanks to the brilliant Rabih Alameddine (who you should follow on Twitter, if you don’t already) for tipping me off to lukasa, memory boards used by the Luba kingdom, in the 18th & 19th century.

I’ve been thinking about how someone might track their experiences in a visual (non-text) way. I find these nothing short of breathtaking.

The readers of these “long (wooden) hands” were members of an elite secret society. The boards contained origin myths, logistical/genealogy information, as well as top-secret divine king type of stuff (although there are apparently no extant examples of the latter boards, also known as the long hand of the sacred pool.)

So what is known about how to read lukasa? According to Wikipedia the villain was portrayed by a red bead “associated with bloody violence” whereas the king/hero was portrayed by a blue bead to indicate “ambivalent power and secret potential.” MUST. KNOW. MORE.

More here, here, here, here and here.

Talisman (all that is gone, all that remains), 18” x 18”, 2018 (fiber, acrylic paint). A different sort of memory board.