This group of prestige cups would have been used as vessels for palm wine among the Kuba and Ngombe. The Kuba palm wine vessels, located to the left and right in the photographs, both exhibit finely carved surface decorations typical of Kuba artisans. The cup located to the left displays a carved ripple surface pattern intricately interspersed with raised dots, and the vessel to the right has been adorned with interlocked geometric patterns.
The centrally located cup is a fine example of an early Ngombe prestige vessel, dating back to the late nineteenth-century. The surface of the cup has been subtly decorated with a series of carved vertical channelled lines, and the handle has been adorned with early brass tacks and a metal chain - which appears to be contemporaneous with the vessel. As a result of use over time, the handles of the palm wine cups have developed a lovely patinated surface.
Left: H: 14cm, Ex Private Collection, The Netherlands (Amsterdam) - SOLD
Centre: H: 17.8cm, Estimated Period: Late Nineteenth-Century, Ex Private Collection, Belgium - £550
Right: : 13.5cm, Ex Private Collection, Belgium - £380
(Click on images to enlarge)