Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I'm just getting over a lull and now enjoying the storm. It feels as if all my senses are sharpened. My idea book is filling....I have sketcher's cramp in my hand...... not that I'm moaning, mind you. I'm loving this flood of ideas and inspiration as well as abundant gifts from friends and family. My mother inlaw insists that I  buy a few lottery tickets because this is obviously my lucky phase.

For years I've been searching for a Lukasa and on Monday I found the first Lukasa I've ever seen face to face and I've been floating in a fog of euphoria ever since.

A little history on the Lukasa (nkasa - plural). These wooden memory boards are used by Luba kings, diviners, geneologists and court historians in the Congo. The Lukasa is a memory aid, a means for evoking events, places and names which assist in initiation ceremonies. According to the book I have, A History of Art in Africa, "It stimulates thought and instructs in sacred lore, culture heroes, migrations, and sacred rule". "A configuration of beads, shells and pins coded by size and colour on one side may refer to kings' lists. Beads may stand for individuals, a large bead encircled by smaller ones perhaps representing a chief and his entourage. Bead arrangements also refer to proverbs and praise phrases" as well as migratory paths and roads.

On with the story......

Coming out of the bead shop I noticed a new shop next door filled with eye catching artifacts. A magnificent shield from Afghanistan, several unusual scrap metal sculptures, many African carvings ................and two beautiful nkasa. I think my heart stopped beating for a moment and way deep in my foggy brain a voice insisted that it couldn't be what I thought it was.  Then my heart kicked into overdrive.....because it really was a Lukasa now nestling in my hand. I was looking down at the ancient history of a particular tribe.....there .... in MY hand.

I had enough cash on me to buy one of the Lukasas but when M saw the look on my face he said "Look Babe, this doesn't happen've worked hard and you deserve it." and then the dear man promptly bought me the other one.  So now I am the beaming owner of two nkasa :-)

The next time I go I'll take you all along for a browse. On this occasion I left my camera. The shop is simple with carefully selected items, obviously chosen for their aesthetic beauty....but what I haven't been able to get my head around and I'm still puzzling over it two days later is the fact that in one corner amidst the stunning artifacts, was a small rack of very sexy red and black lingerie. I stopped in my tracks feeling slightly confused. Wha???


  1. Just happened to check my blog and found this brand new post by you! I learned something new - what a fascinating story! The Lukasas are lovely. How old do you think they are? Can you tell which tribe they belonged to by looking at their patterns?

  2. Bindu, I'm not an authority on African Art though I have done a lot of reading about it. I'm sure one can tell which tribe if one knows what to look for. Not sure of the age either and the shop owner didn't know but the smaller one looks very old. The bigger one perhaps not as old.....but I'm only guessing.

  3. "the dear man rushed off to an ATM." And you are questioning the red and black lingerie???? It's a sign!

  4. How wonderful! Obviously these were meant to find a new home with you - someone who really appreciates the significance of finding something so special. I've never even heard of a Lukasa before but I can so see why you'd be searching for one - they're amazing. Beautiful AND so meaningful.
    Awesome hubby reaction too!

  5. Oh Robyn...I got sweaty reading this post!!! This means so much...much, much more than meets the eye. Although what meets the eye is absolutely incredible!!! I love both Lukasas. Be still my beating heart! The history to these items is fascinating and so sacred...

    I was listening to a radio chat show the other day, on unusual shops that sell unusual combinations of stock...Artfacts & sexy red & black lingerie would have been the winner!!! :)

  6. It's like I just turned a corner in the museum and saw stunning exhibits. Thanks for sharing.

  7. I have goose bumps reading this!
    How wonderful, all that history and tradition and 'magic', all there,to hold in your hand.
    I bet they positively vibrate with all the many layers of meaning within.
    Definately fate taking a hand.

  8. What a wonderful story, what amazing finds, and what a good husband!

  9. How wonderful! I've never heard of Likasas. They are facinating. One reminds me a bit of the owls you are so fond of. Enjoy your treasures.

  10. Aboriginal paintings found in caves in Australia are similar. Some of them are maps of where to find water or food.

  11. Don :-)

    Kendalee, I still can't believe my luck. And I very nearly didn't go so as you say, it ws meant to be.

    Thinker, you would feel the magic if you could actually hold one in your hand.

    Jo, talk about hearts beating wildly!I don't think I've ever been this thrilled over a piece for my collection. As for the lingerie...???

    Annette, that is the magic isn't it? A little piece of history.

    Kerri, still smiling here.

    Chris, you often see that owl like face in large Songwe masks.

  12. Jason, aboriginal art is another fascination....especially the cave art.

  13. Wow... fascinating indeed! I had never heard of Lukasas before either. What a wonderful find. And a lovely husband too! :)

  14. Hi Robyn,
    I have to put your blog on my favorites list! Is that OK?
    We must be kindred spirits. I would have been as excited as you!

  15. You are a lucky duck! The one with the eyes is especially amazing. I am getting vibes just looking at the picture! Wow!!

  16. Robyn - just wanted to let you know that I've answered the tag questions from your tag. Also, I've tagged you back on a different one. :) No compulsion though .. only if you feel like it.

  17. You must play the lotto it certainly looks like a lucky phase.It is amazing when you have been searching for something for years and then quite unexpectedly its staring you in the face. Your excitement and happiness is palpable.Thanks for the information on Lukasas.

  18. Wow! Those are beautiful and so inspiring. I wonder what a Robyn Lukasa would look like? These pieces seem so magical.
    Thank you for sharing these.

  19. What a find! They are so beautiful.

  20. Robyn - isn't life great?! - I've never heard of a Lakasa, but man oh man - are they ever beautiful! - you must look at them every few minutes just for the pure joy of them!

  21. Jin, hubby has caught Lukasa fever...which is rather nice.

    Caroline, thanks for adding my blog to your links and glad you are riding on the wave of excitement. I'm still feeling it!


    Bindu, I will hop over to have a look shortly.

    Embellisher, I got three numbers in the Lotto draw which is better then i usually do. R7 winnings. Better luck next time.

    Leanne, Lukasas (or photographs of Lukasas) have been inspiring me for years.

    Thanks Shayla.

    Jeane, you just caught me doing exactly that!

    Thanks Heather.

  22. I didn't know what they were, but as I looked at that first image I knew they were something very important. Thankyou for posting about them. Such history in your hand.

  23. My heart skipped a beat too, like you are holding something that is power, and sacred... its beautiful ... I seem to be having weeks of that kind of "lucky bliss" too... its too much, almost!

  24. You certainly must be standing under a lucky star! And weren't you fortunate to find these at a time in your life when you could afford them. As so often happens to me, I find something magical, but can only look and not purchase for my own. The history was fascinating. I wish you could read it and tell us the Lukasas own story

  25. the thrill of the chase..the bliss of the find! Collector's heaven..and two?

    I was going to say that mercury has just begun to go forward again, after a period of retro grade,so all things are moving forward, energetically, but this... this is bigger.. you are clearly on track.

    And the lingerie? MAybe you have to diversify in the market..he he.. but my guess is, the owner has a penchant nd is taking advantage of some wholesale prices for his private collection. uhm.. or hers...

  26. Oh this is so exciting.. I could feel your every vibration...

    I am glad to hear about Lukasas, too.. such meaning I never would have known..

    you both were in the right place.... so cool!!!

  27. Congrats on your find! That moment of discovery must have been like magic.

  28. HHMN, there is a powerful feeling about them especially the small one with the faces.

    Mansuetude, exactly!The "lucky bliss" is almost overwhelming.

    Stevie, I would have sold my grandmothers antiques to be able to afford them. I had to have one at least! Actually they were not expensive.......another miracle. If they had been in one of the Johannesburg artefact galleries they would have been totally out of reach.

    Grrl, the owner of the shop was a little wisp of a girl (Looked as if she had just finished school).

    Gwen, a chance happening!

    Seth, yes a magical moment. Glad to see you are back in Bloggieland. Will pop over later.

  29. These are wonderful and what fascinating history to them! I've enjoyed browing your blog

  30. I love it when the universe decides to toss an unexpected treasure in my path ... or in the path of someone deserving of joy. glad the uni chose to you this time. the Lukasas are quite amazing. thank you for the lesson. :)

  31. These are amazing. And you found two! I"d never heard of a lukasas before and I'm fascinated.

    As to the black lingerie....sometimes it's best not to ask.

  32. Wow, what a find. Thanks for all of this history/background on these pieces too, fascinating!
    It will be nice if you are able to track some of the history.

  33. Didn't know about lukasas - the ones you have look very beautiful. I shall go away and read about them now. Best to "draw a veil" over the red lingerie I think!!
    Thank you for visiting my blog, I shall add you to my blog list as I so enjoyed reading yours.

  34. what an enjoyable post.
    lukasas seem like a fascinating and beautiful way of keeping a diary.
    yes, please post some picts of this shop when you go there next, mysterious lingerie and all.

  35. 3rdeyemuse, thanks for sharing the joy :-)

    Pamela, actually I don't think I have the gall to ask.

    Jacky, it would be great to speak to an authority on Lukasas about them.

    Weaver of grass, I always enjoy learning something new too.

    Priya, that is so interesting thing of them as diaries. People have been recording their history for centuries in many different ways.

  36. those artefacts are might like to try googling for "toa" , a kind of message stick/waymarker formerly used by the indigenous peoples of northern South Australia (ie the middle bit of our dry continent), suspect you'd find them quite intriguing too

  37. oooh lah lah! love it when serendipitous finds like these cross our paths - those are my 'aha'moments too. happy days to you. you deserve them after those dry spells. drink 'em in, wallow like a hippo and enjoy. r.

  38. what fabulous finds, they really are beautiful

  39. Tumbleweed, the toa does sound intriguing. I'll see what I can find.

    Rachelle, exactly! Just like a hippo!

    Thanks Ro.

  40. I love these and your story... how wonderful that you found them. They are beautiful and you have taught me about Lukasas... thank you

  41. I have been noticing this everytime I come to your blog...You really have an eye for extraordinary pieces of work, this collection of artifacts is just amazing.


  42. Although you got 44 comments I feel Imust just add mine.This is so fascinating ..the Lukasa is new to me and I wonder if the rock art of ancient Britain might be borne of the same impulse. Thank you so much for this interesting post and congratulations on your wonderful find.

  43. Just found your blog through The Altered Page.
    What a fascinating story. The first I've heard of a Lukasa and indeed, they are beautiful. Such a privilege to hold a rich history (and own one !) in your hands. Congrats on your finds.