Kuba Mbup Royal Ceremonial Headband 0372

  • Tribe: Kuba
  • Origin: Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Approx Age: Mid 20th Century
  • Materials: Glass beads, cowrie shells, Hessian type material and cloth
  • Dimensions cm: 43 long x 4 wide
  • Ref. Number: 0372

A beautiful and old Kuba Mbup royal headband from the Democratic Republic of Congo. A  tribally piece of ceremonial  jewellery worn by Kuba royal families, this is a head band called “Mbup”   These are on a textile backing adorned with glass beads, and cowrie shells on a red material with string ties. They were the sign of powerful and wealthy persons. This one has very slight wear damage, please see detailed photos.

Kuba (also called Bakuba) people are agriculturalist and a cluster of Bushong-speaking ethnic groups of the larger Bantu ethnicity living in the southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo between the Kasai and Sankuru rivers east of their confluence.
The Kuba are surrounded by other tribes such as the Suku, Yaka, and Pende (Cole, 381). Kuba who are well-known for their advance ritualistic sculptures and masks is composed of eighteen groups located in the southern most part of the Great Equatorial Forest; which is on the boarder of the tropical forest and the open Savannah.

Apart from the Bushong speaking principalities, other Kuba people includes the Kete, Coofa, Mbeengi, and the Cwa Pygmies. The Kuba people always refer to themselves as the Bakuba which translates to “people of the throwing knife” (Washburn , 17).

When the kingdom of tribes was first brought together, the people were ruled by the Bushong people from the hill country of the central Congo (Caraway);these people have contributed most of the rulers to the Kuba. Whenever a king dies, the capital is moved to the location of the new King (Washburn , 19). Intertribal trading occurred often because the Kuba were such a powerful empire (Meurant , 121). Supernatural powers are the basis for the beliefs; spells, witchcraft, and channels between the living and the dead are some of these powers. The king is the chief of the sorcerer’s and bridges the boundary between the natural and the supernatural (Meurant , 122).