Kuba Box

Beautiful Kuba trinket/knife box, rectangular with carved geometric decoration and dome handle in the centre of the cover.

Kuba Tukula pot
Tribe: Kuba

Origin: Kuba Kingdom DRC

Approx Age: Mid 20th Century

Materials: Wood

Dimensions cm: 26.5 (long) x 8 (wide)

Ref. Number: 1399

 

£475.00

Description:
This Kuba box is rectangular in shape with a lovely geometric pattern/design which is so typical of the Kuba. Most probably carved for a ceremonial knife or possibly for trinkets/jewellery. The lid also displays a matching design. A dome shape, that is studded, to the centre of the lid adds both charm and character to this box. There are remnants of cam powder together with holes where once a fastening would have held the box shut. Plenty of signs of being a well-used and cherished item of Kuba art.

Provenance: Ex-Sotheby’s 1987. Ex-Tom Phillips – London

AHDRC N˚ 0023628-001

History

The Kuba box such as this is normally this rectangle in shape yet Kuba tukula boxes have a variety of shapes either a small pot or a rectangular or crescent moon. The pots or boxes are often highly decorated with geometric patterns/designs indeed surface decoration that covers these vessels and boxes is known as nnaam/nyinga, a Kuba term referring to the tangled vines and creepers that grow in the fertile forests of this region. and lidded to keep the contents safe. Used for a number of reasons from keeping beads or jewellery in but perhaps the more common and well-recognised purpose is for the storage of what is known as Tukula. Tukula is a bright red pigment obtained by rubbing together pieces of heartwood from a tropical tree. Two tree species, Camwood (Bafia Nitra) and African Padauk (Pterocarpus Soyauxii), are valued for their red heartwood. When grinding in a mortar, Tukula becomes a fine powder. This fine powder is often mixed with palm oil to create a paste/paint that can then be used to dye textiles, paint carved objects and even be used as a cosmetic to decorate the body. So versatile that the Tukula paste can also be baked, creating a hard block known as bongotol. These blocks are then decorated and presented as gifts at funerals.

Photo opposite from the Guy van Rijn archives AHDRC

Guy Van Rijn, AHDRC Database

 

 

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