Central Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kuba culture, early 20th century CE. A hand-carved wooden box of a truncated oval form, its lid finely carved with a stylized human face or mask that presents bold features and a guilloche pattern. Such intricately carved Kuba boxes were traditionally used to store a cosmetic called twool, a red powder made out of the Pterocarpus tree, or cherished valuables. An excellent example with remains of pigment within and a lustrous patina. Size: 6" W x 9.5" H (15.2 cm x 24.1 cm)
Cf. Krieger (1969, pl.229) for a Kuba box sold by Leo Viktor Frobenius (1873-1938) to the Museum für Völkerkunde, Berlin, in 1904 (inv.III C 19833a.b).
Provenance: private New York, New York, USA collection, acquired at Christie's, London, Lot 70 of July 4, 1989 sale
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Minor abrasions to lid and body, with fading to interior pigmentation, and a couple of stable hairline fissures along top of verso, otherwise intact and excellent. Nice remains of original pigment within interior and great patina throughout.