African art > Jars, amphoras, pots, matakam > Luba cup
Luba Shankadi royal caryatid cup (N° 19910)
The figure acting as a caryatid here adopts an unusual posture revealing the most intimate parts of a very detailed anatomy. According to P. Nooter these figures represented the diviner's wife, emphasizing her importance in the process of divination bilumbu. She supports the mboko cup, a calabash that was filled with kaolin, symbolizing purity and the spiritual world, and with which the king's visitors smeared themselves out of respect.
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The antelope unfolding at the top also forms a recurring symbolic motif in Luba iconography.
Abrasions and desiccation cracks. Matt patina, residual inlays.
The Luba (Baluba in Tchiluba) are a people of Central Africa.
Their cradle is Katanga, more precisely the region of the Lubu River, thus the name (Baluba, which means "the Lubas"). They were born from a secession of the Songhoy ethnic group, under the leadership of Ilunga Kalala, who had the old king Kongolo, who has since been venerated in the form of a python, die.
In the sixteenth century they created a state, organized in decentralized chieftaincies, which extended from the Kasai River to Lake Tanganyika. The chieftaincies cover a small territory with no real borders, and include no more than three villages.
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