Skip Navigation

Palm Wine Cup (Mbwoongntey)

Arts of Africa

For centuries, among the Kuba, indications of personal status have been an important element in crafted objects. Even ordinary utilitarian items such as drinking cups for palm wine may indicate wealth and status through elegant carvings and decorations. Frequently, cups intended for use by rulers are carved in the form human head with a distinctive hairstyle associated only with royalty. Far more rare are cups carved with full figures.

MEDIUM Wood, copper alloy
DATES 19th century
DIMENSIONS 6 3/4 x 4 x 5 1/8 in. (17.1 x 10.2 x 13 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
CREDIT LINE Museum Expedition 1922, Robert B. Woodward Memorial Fund
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Wooden cup for ritual drinking of palm wine, in the form of a human head, with handle. Decorated at hairline, between eyes at temples with brass tacks. Condition: Base chipped has been broken and repaired.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Kuba. Palm Wine Cup (Mbwoongntey), 19th century. Wood, copper alloy, 6 3/4 x 4 x 5 1/8 in. (17.1 x 10.2 x 13 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Expedition 1922, Robert B. Woodward Memorial Fund, 22.1487. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 22.1487_PS2.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 22.1487_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2007
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this three-dimensional work in accordance with a Creative Commons license. Fair use, as understood under the United States Copyright Act, may also apply. Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please fill out our online application form (charges apply). For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress, Cornell University, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, and Copyright Watch. For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright. If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome any additional information you might have.