Accession Number



Artist Nationality
Kuba (Democratic Republic of Congo style)

Object Creation Date
circa 1940

Medium & Support

2 7/8 in (7.3 cm)

Credit Line
Museum purchase

Subject matter
Kuba artists apply their bold and sophisticated surface design to both ceremonial and everyday objects alike. Objects such as drums, boxes, stools, backrests, knives, swords, bangles, wisdom baskets, staffs and fly whisks were typically reserved for the king and his courtiers. However, these objects, in addition to cups, rubbing oracles, pipes, combs, drinking horns, ritual spoons, and scepters, also served specific religious and ceremonial functions, or were simply everyday objects for common use. Whether they were related to prestige, used as divination objects to protect the community or simply served as conversation pieces for decoration, the commonality these objects often share are the elaborate geometric patterning and lavish surface design.

This particular vessel contains this red tukula powder called tool or twool. Made from camwood, tukula is used abundantly on Kuba carvings. It is also smeared on clothing and used in times of mourning. Additionally, the geometric patterns on this vessel are similar to patterns found on Kuba textile, basketry, sculpture, and female body scarifications. Patterns may be given names, but the same pattern will likely be given a different name by different people. 

References Cited: 
Daniel Biebuyck, The Arts of Zaire, 1985
Georges Meurant, African Textiles from the Kingdom of Kuba, 1986
Roy Sieber, African Textiles and Decorative Arts, 1972
Jan Vansina, The Children of Woot, 1978

Physical Description
Cylindrical vessel with handle and a slightly buldging base. The rim is extended with faces designed on the inside of the rim's lip. There are linear design patterns wrapped around the cylinder portion of the vessel. 

Primary Object Classification
Wood and Woodcarving

Primary Object Type

Collection Area

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
carvings (visual works)
faces (animal components)

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