“Historically, Tabwa people lived under Luba domination in small autonomous villages scattered within a territory that expanded across the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) and Zambia, along Lake Tanganyika. Interestingly, the verb ‘tabwa’ means ‘to be tied up’ and refers to when these people were taken as slaves. During the 19th century, the ivory trade brought wealth to the region and Tabwa people gained their independence. Today, they number 200,000 and are led by chief-sorcerers who rule over village chiefs and family chiefs. Their power is counterbalanced by male societies created on Luba prototypes and by female associations influenced by East African models. Traditionally, Tabwa people made their living from hunting and blacksmithing; nowadays, they farm and fish.
The influence on Tabwa art of their eastern Tanzanian neighbors is seen in their use of linear geometric decoration, while their western neighbors, the Luba, influenced the incorporation of prestige objects into Tabwa life.”
Baquart, Jean-Baptiste. The Tribal Arts of Africa. New York: Thames and Hudson Inc. 1998. Print.