Singiti (pl. lusingiti) figures are idealised and stylised depictions of deceased Hemba leaders. It is believed that the chief's spirit inhabited the singiti figure and that ancestors are able to influence the success and wellbeing of villagers and of the community. As such, prayers were directed to figures and sacrifices of chicken blood offered. "It also provided a powerful ideological message about family continuity and legitimized the political authority inherited by the ancestor’s living kin".1 When not in use, singiti figures were housed in small darkened funerary huts or in the chief's house, out of sight from view.
Common features among all singiti:
Regional variations (Southern Hemba / Sayi region):