Multi-Lidded Vessel, Wood, Lozi peoples

Multi-Lidded Vessel

early to mid-20th century
Zambia, Western Zambia
Lozi peoples
H. 12 1/4 x Diam. 9 3/4 in. (31.1 x 24.8 cm)
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1964
Accession Number:
Not on view
At the turn of the twentieth century, vessels decorated with zoomorphic or geometric handles became the decorative art form in Western collections that epitomized Lozi culture. The design of this sophisticated example incorporates two stacked bowls: the lid of the large round bowl on the bottom serves as a base for the smaller oval bowl, itself topped with a lid decorated by a geometric handle. The trapezoid shape of the latter symbolizes the palace of the king, a theme frequently depicted on Lozi bowls. The motif, in use for at least a century, remains popular to this day. Such wood vessels served as receptacles for keeping food warm. The larger bowl in this example held buhobe, the staple starch, and the oval bowl at the top was for a stew known as busunsu.
Acquired in Africa by Oscar Ruebhausen, 1957–1958; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1958, on loan to The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1959–1964; The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1964–1978