Multi-Lidded Vessel

Date: early to mid-20th century

Geography: Zambia, Western Zambia

Culture: Lozi peoples

Medium: Wood

Dimensions: H. 12 1/4 x Diam. 9 3/4 in. (31.1 x 24.8 cm)

Classification: Wood-Containers

Credit Line: The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1964

Accession Number: 1978.412.344a-d


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.