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Within Central Africa's Kasai region, Leele titleholders commissioned local artists to produce elegant personal accessories that displayed their prosperity and personal achievements. These included vessels for drinking palm wine, a beverage that served as a symbol of hospitality. Leele artists placed great care in the carving of such drinking cups and often enhanced them with human features, from single heads to full figures. Functionality, design, and refined carving intersect in this vessel depicting a couple, the wine flowing from one figure to the other through a pierced aperture where their bodies meet.
Jos Walscharts, Antwerp, before 1937; [Julius Carlebach Gallery, New York, until 1956]; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1956, on loan to The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1956–1978
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