About This Artwork

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Drinking Horn, Mid–/late 19th century

Wood, copper alloy, and iron
39.4 x 44.5 x 11.4 cm (15 1/2 x 17 1/2 x 4 1/2 in.)

Gift of George F. Harding, 1928.173

Since the founding of the Kuba kingdom in the 17th century, a wide variety of regalia has been created to delineate its complex hierarchy. Among the objects that designate the status of a Kuba warrior are headdresses, staffs, swords, cups, and drinking horns. This drinking horn is sculpted to look like a buffalo horn, a symbol of the powerful, untamed wilderness. Bits of copper accentuate its raised designs, which include a crocodile, a hand, and geometric patterns. The decorative iron attachment allowed the horn to be suspended from a belt.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Chicago, Ill., Children’s Museum, Negro in Art Week: Primitive and Modern, lent by Harlem Museum, Nov. 16-Dec. 1, 1927, no. 3; traveled to Rochester, N.Y., the Memorial Art Gallery; New Art Circle, New York, N.Y.

Publication History

Raoul Blondiau, Theatre Arts Collection of Primitive African Art (New York: The New Art Circle, 1927), n. pag., cat. 146.

Harlem Museum of African Art Travelling Exhibit: The Negro in Art Week (Art Institute of Chicago, 1927), n. pag., cat. 3 (ill.).

Richard F. Townsend and Kathleen Bickford Berzock, “The Art Institute of Chicago New Galleries for African Art and Indian Art of the Americas,” in Tribal Arts 16-1, no. 62 (Winter 2011), p. 60, fig. 3.

Ownership History

Raoul Blondiau, Brussels, Belgium, by 1925; sold to Theatre Arts Monthly, New York, N.Y., by 1927 [New York 1927 exh. cat.]; sold to the Art Institute, 1928.

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