Advanced Search

K-12 Educator
K-12 Student
Museum Visitor
UMMA Docent
UMMA Staff
University Faculty
University Student
Between and Mortarboard

UMMA Object Specific Fields

Query builder


Accession Number



Artist Nationality
Kuba (Democratic Republic of Congo style)

Object Creation Date
circa 1900

Medium & Support
terracotta, fiber, wood, and tukula powder

5 1/2 in (14 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. 

This particular vessel contains tukula powder called tool or twool. Made from ground camwood, tukula was used abundantly on Kuba carvings. It was 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. The piece of wood attached to the end of the fiber served as a hook to hang the vessel on the interior walls of dwellings. 

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
Vessel with two bulbous sections and a tapered middle section with a small opening at the top. There is a braided fiber string wrapped around the tapered mid section with a piece of wood attached to the end of the fiber. The bulbous portions of the vessel are decorated with geometric patterns.

Primary Object Classification

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
Objects We Use
camwood (wood)
terracottas (sculptural works)

& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted