Exhibitions/ Art Object

Vessel: Couple

19th–20th century
Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kasai River region
Leele peoples
Wood, copper
H. 7 5/8 x D. 6 7/8 x W. 4 1/8 in. (19.4 x 17.5 x 10.5 cm)
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979
Accession Number:
Not on view
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

Torday, Emil, and T.A. Joyce. "Notes Ethnographiques sur les peuples communement appeles Bakuba, ainsi que sur les peuplades apparentees, Les Bushongo." Annales du Musee Royal d'Afrique Centrale, Tervuren, Series 4, v\ol. 2, no. 1 (1911).

Rosenthal, Frieda. African Art in Westchester from Private Collections. Yonkers, NY: Hudson River Museum, 1971, no. 215.

Related Objects

Power Figure: Male (Nkisi)

Date: 19th–20th century Medium: Wood, copper, brass, iron, fiber, snakeskin, leather, fur, feathers, mud, resin Accession: 1978.409 On view in:Gallery 352

Prestige Stool: Female Caryatid

Artist: Buli Master, possibly Ngongo ya Chintu (Hemba, ca. 1810-1870) Date: 19th century Medium: Wood, metal studs Accession: 1979.290 On view in:Gallery 352

Ceremonial Staff: Seated Female Finial (Kibango)

Date: 19th–early 20th century Medium: Wood, copper, metal, iron Accession: 1978.412.646 On view in:Gallery 352

Pipe: Head

Date: 19th–20th century Medium: Wood, iron, copper wire Accession: 1978.412.546 On view in:Gallery 352

Power Figure: Male (Nkisi)

Date: 19th–mid-20th century Medium: Wood, pigment, nails, cloth, beads, shells, arrows, leather, nuts, twine Accession: 1979.206.127 On view in:Gallery 352