Storage Vessels

Kuba people did not begin carving intricate items until the time of the first capital, Nsheng, less detailed objects carved before that time were found in the smaller communities.  When looking at objects, it is sometimes difficult to determine if it was a piece of pottery or a wood carving.  Everyday objects were carved in detail such as hooks carved as little men or plates, cups, and storage boxes.  Aesthetic parameters were placed on certain types of objects but the artist was allowed to show their creativity within the set boundaries.  Older collections are much more diverse than current collections because of the tourist trade and the tendency to standardize the objects for the visitors (Vasina , 217).

Wooden Cup

The cup is carved out of wood and its form has intricate details wrapping the surface of the cup.  Only people with titles in the renowned court structure are allowed to receive these special cups.  The narrow face is pronounced by a copper strip.  These special vessels were carved to order by special artists (figure MFA cup).  Many drinking horns are used for palm wine and have ritual connotations.  A person’s status was shown within the Kuba court by the amount of detail put into the vessels.  Buffalo horns are used which show power as well as geometric shapes that appear on textiles and in scarification.  When these drinking flasks had ram horns, it symbolized the fact that the owner held a senior position in the Kuba court (MFA gallery label).

Cosmetic Boxes

Cosmetic boxes and other types of ornate containers are popular within the Kuba society and are carved out of wood.  The cosmetics held within the container include tukula powder, a substance made from the bark of a tree; this was used for the body, hair, and preparation for the burial of the deceased (Cole , 386).

Men and women have different roles to play in the creation of art that truly represents the Kuba people.  The men create curvilinear wood elements by carving wood while the women spend their time adding stylized rectangular representations to the carvings.  Men also create art in different forms of media besides wood, such as stone (Meurant , 116).