Royal Treasures of the “Jolly” Kuba
Have a holly, jolly Kuba
It's the best time of the year
I don't know if there'll be snow
But have a cup of cheer ..
It took me a few years to assemble a fine collection of Kuba objects.
The Ethnographic & Tribal Art Auction (Royal Kuba Treasures) is ending on Saturday 23-Dec-2017 around 8 p.m. Belgium time.
(Use the autobid function if you can't be there at the end of the auction)
The catawiki auction costs are very low compared to other auction sites – only 9% of the hammer price.
Ethnographic & Tribal Art Auction (Royal Kuba Treasures)
To the auction :
The following lots have been put up for this auction:
– Lot 1: Kuba Bwoom Helmet , Democratic Republic of the Congo
A unusual object, with excellent shiny patina as a result of protracted use (on the outside as well as on the inside).
Estimated age: First quarter of the 20th century.
€2,500 – €3,500
– Lot 2: Fine KUBA Nobleman- D.R.C. .Congo
A very fine and old Bushoong Ndop-Early XXth century- Good Condition-Provenance Jan Kusters
A finelly carved Ndop figure of a high ranking Kuba nobleman.
H= 39 cm
L= 12 cm
D= 10 cm
Weight 1 kg 850 gr
€2,500 – €2,800 carving.
– Lot 3: Itumba Bashilele divination oracle , Democratic Republic of the Congo
Kuba artists of south-central DRC create friction oracles known as itombwa.
Regarded as infallible divinatory instruments, itombwa were used by the Ding, Kuba, Lele,
Luluwa and Wongo peoples to mediate between diviners and omniscient nature spirits in order to
determine the cause of illnesses and appropriate courses of treatment, as well as to expose dishonesty.
€1,100 – €1,200
– Lot 4: Miniature Kuba ring Cup – Morigi provenance.
€500 – €750
The reserve price is as small as the Cup: € 200
– Lot 5: A KUBA Tokula box with animal on top – D.R.C. .Congo
A finely carved Tokula Kuba box with a quite unusual little animal or insect carved on top and tokula powder remains
€550 – €600
– Lot 6: A Pair of Kuba Cups – Democratic Republic of the Congo
From a retired Belgian collector who had more than 70 Art objects mentioned in the Guy van Rijn Yale database of African art. ( name will be given to the buyer )
€400 – €600
Reserve price: € 250
– Lot 7: A male Kuba Dengese figure – Democratic Republic of the Congo
€1,750 – €2,500
– Lot 8: Animal mask -Pwoom Itok – KUBA – Congo (RDC)
Pwoom Itok mask from the collection of Jan van Camp, Antwerp, Belgium.
Horned Pwoom Itok mask – Eastern Kasai-Congo (DRC)
Size: 24cm; 40 cm on its custom metal base
Wood, feathers, raffia, copper nails in the eyes, remains of Tokula powder.
Very interesting Pwoom Itok, ..
€800 – €1,200
Low price limit 400€.
– Lot 9: Black KUBA Lele mask – Congo (RDC)- Bob Germ collection
Representing the first Kuba's king wife. Such masks appear principally at the funerals of chiefs and elders
but are also used in annual performances that celebrate and teach the history of Lele origins and migrations.
€800 – €1,200
– Lot 10: Historic Kuba Head Anthropomorphic Cup
For centuries, among the Kuba, indications of personal status have been an important element in crafted objects.
Even ordinary utilitarian items such as drinking cups for palm wine may indicate wealth and status through elegant carvings and decorations.
€650 – €700
– Lot 11: An old Lapukpuk, Moshambwooy mask
The face is named pal, and is in leopard skin. In represents a old king that's why those masks are usually blind masks
€750 – €1,250
Reserve price: € 500
– Lot 12: Kuba Bwoom Helm mask with hand on the back , Provenance Maria Wyss
Wood, dark crusty patina. H= 34 cm D= 36 cm (64 cm with stand)
Crack and indigenous restoration on the side, hole on top.
Provenance: Maria Wyss, merchant expert and collector of African Art, who lived in Basel (Switzerland) in the 1960s and 1970s. She was well known in the collectors and museums community for her good taste and knowledge, and for mounting major public exhibitions of beautiful pieces.
She worked with many museums and major private collectors. Entered the Norden Collection from “Jo the Buck” a long time ago.
€3,000 – €5,000
– Lot 13: Kuba Laket Hat with feathers and beads , Democratic Republic of the Congo, finely woven.
A complete Kuba hat ( also named Laket) from a nobleman with feathers and beads on raffia , cowrie shells . Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Large 19 cm or 7.5 inch.
Provenance: Piet L. the tribalartfinder who collects since 1993
– Lot 14: Kuba head- D.R.C. Congo. Upper part box lid carved in shape of a face
Provenance: Gaetan Schoonbroodt, Verviers, Belgium.
Size: H=15 cm , or 28 cm on it's custom made metal stand.
Medium brown wood, + some copper inserts in the mouth ( and originally also on the nose and eye brows )
€550 – €600
Reserve price:€ 200
– Lot 15: Kuba-Kete Helmet Mask.
A joyful mask with a nice size.
€2,000 – €3,000
– Lot 16: The rediscovered ndop of king Mbop a-Kyeen- KUBA – Congo (RDC)- 74 cm – 29 inch
According to Olbrechts this represents king Mbop' a-Kyeen, the 119th king of the Kuba, who died in 1895 (Cornet-Art Royal Kuba p 52, 59 )
Collected in the 1950's.
Provenance: Jean Marc Desaive, Brussels.
A figure in the same style – probably from the same carver – can be seen in National Museum of Denmark, and represents Mbopey Mabiintsch ma-Mbul ( Cornet-Art Royal Kuba-p115 )
Size: One of the biggest known Ndop figures- 74 cm – 29 inch . The rediscovered ndop of king Mbop a-Kyeen- KUBA – Congo (RDC).
€6,500 – €8,500
Reserve price:€ 1400
André Dimitri the Catawiki expert, made a little essay about Kuba Art:
The Royal Kuba art shines by it’s diversity and cannot be understood purely from an artistic point of view. It is the fruit of an intellectual process of representations, reflecting the construction of the political state, and integrate forms and symbols.
Founded in the 17th century by A-Shyaam Mbul, The Kuba Kingdom gradually included no less than twenty Bantu ethnic groups. The royal power is based on a powerful aristocracy.
Kuba art became quickly “regalia”, integrating codifications allowing everybody to find it’s place inside the society.
Already in the early 20th century, Europeans were quite impressed by the Royal Kuba art.
In 1906 Leo Frobenius declared: “Every cup, every pipe, every spoon, is an art object comparable to the best European Roman style creations”.
The perfect illustration of this regalia’s art is incarnated by the Ndop figure.
Those figures are not a pure representation of deceased kings but a mental idealization of Kuba kings who governed since the 17th century. A codification by the abstraction of forms called “Ibol” that allow to identify each king or Nyim.
These figures have a double “twin” trans-temporal function. During the reign, the Ndop figures were kept in the kings “harem” women area bringing fertility and giving protection during the absence of king. After the kings deceased, the figures became commemorative and were stored in a private room, and only exhibited during commemorative ceremonies.
Masks are also important for the Kuba. They are used both in court rituals and during the boys initiation during the adolescence rites of passage, as well as during funerals.
Three types of masks are particularly popular in the court rituals:
1. – Moshambwooy represents “Woot “the founder of Bushoong.
2. – The role of women is the Kuba society is not less important with the “Nady Amwaash (Ngaady Un Mwash)” mask. The Kuba kingdom has the particularity of having a matrilineal succession system, detrimental to the patriarchal system. That’s how the kingdom has been able to count in its history some Queen-Mothers and Queen-Regents.
3. – Finally the third important mask is called “Bwoom”. He represents successively a prince (the younger brother of the king), but can also simply be a man of the people, or a pygmy representing a subversive personage at the royal court.
The Kuba are also appreciated for the creation of fabrics called Ntshak, and the famous Kasaï velvet. They were made as ornament, but also as an exchange-piece, or used as funeral ornaments and for other ritual occasions.
Boosted by a strong economical development and a powerful hierarchic kingdom surrounded by a powerful aristocracy, the artisans class rapidly emerged in Kuba Kingdom, not only to serve the power of the king but also by producing ‘High-quality objects for other high-status people: drums, neck-rests, friction oracles, or Kuba cephalomorphic cups.
The first exhibition of Kuba material was in 1910 in the British Museum, with objects coming from the Hungarian ethnologist Emil Torday.
It took me a few years to assemble this collection, and I hope you enjoy it.
A good read about the Kuba even if often a bit pricey is the book from Joseph Cornet. Art Royal Kuba ( 1982)
WHAT TO DO NEXT:
See All Kuba Lots offered by David Norden Buy African Antiques on Catawiki .
Wishing you a happy bidding and holidays !
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