This is surely one of the most masterful of the elaborately carved cups made by the Kuba. Combining complex and intriguing imagery with a sure sense of form and proportion, the carver creates the surface texture and patterning for which Kuba art is known: cross-hatching and raised and incised motifs contrast beautifully with smooth and broadly grooved surfaces. These cups were used for drinking palm wine, which traditionally plays an important role in Kuba social and ritual life. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, intricately carved cups were one of several richly ornamented objects that a man might own as indication of his wealth and importance.
Kuba peoples, Democratic Republic of the Congo
19th or early 20th century
H. 10 11/16 in. (27.2 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 77.34.2