The Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas
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Africa
Kuba peoples, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Cup
Wood, cowrie shells, copper
H. 7 in. (17.8 cm)
Raymond and Laura Wielgus Collection
Indiana University Art Museum, 87.24.6

The skill and hours of labor involved in creating the rich surface patterning on this cup made it an object of prestige among the Kuba. Cowrie shells, which are inlaid, served as currency in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, and so on this cup not only offer a contrasting color and texture but also indicate the wealth of the cup's owner. The face on the cup’s handle is covered with copper, a metal associated with high status.