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Kuba Wooden Figural Palm Wine Cup - PF.6021
Origin: Democratic Republic of Congo
Circa: 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 9.5" (24.1cm) high
Collection: African
Style: Kuba
Medium: Wood

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Palm wine, obtained from the raffia palm tree, is the most popular beverage consumed in the areas inhabited by the Kuba tribe. Today, plastic cups or glasses are used for drinking it; however, during the 19th and early 20th centuries, decorated wooden cups were carved by several tribes across the Southern Savanna. The Kuba specifically are known for their figural and cephalomorphic (head-shaped) cups. This vessel is a perfect example of the masterful artistry of the Kuba woodcarvers. The sculptor has delicately balanced abstract and naturalistic forms. The cup stands on two legs, complete with toes on the feet and a large, protruding rear. A face stands out along the side of the cup noticeable for its prominent chin. The distinctive coiffure is a signature of Kuba art. The back of the vessel has been carved with a detailed pattern possibly imitating the texture of hair. A handle carved with a miniature face at the top connects the back of the head with the rear end and facilitates holding the work. A cup such as this was certainly originally carved as a prestigious display piece for titled individuals of the Kuba tribe. Surely the vessel’s inherent beauty and functional durability rival or surpass that of any fine crystal stemware or bejeweled chalice. - (PF.6021)

 

 

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