Snuff Mortar (Tesa Ya Ma Kanya)
Arts of Africa
On View: African Storage Annex, East Gallery, 1st Floor
The figure forming the stopper of this snuff container can be identified as a chief by the elaborate headdress, or mutwe wa kaynda, he wears, as well as by the way he holds his hands in front of his chest. For the Chokwe, sitting with crossed legs suggests that a person has something to hide; thus, the chief sits in an “open” stance.
early 19th century
9 x 2 3/4 x 2 1/2 in. (22.9 x 7 x 6.4 cm)
a: 6 1/4 in. (15.9 cm)
b: 3 1/2 in. (8.9 cm) (show scale)
Gift of Marcia and John Friede
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Chokwe. Snuff Mortar (Tesa Ya Ma Kanya), early 19th century. Wood, 9 x 2 3/4 x 2 1/2 in. (22.9 x 7 x 6.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Marcia and John Friede, 73.107.1a-b. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 73.107.1a-b_PS2.jpg)
overall, 73.107.1a-b_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2007
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A wooden container in two parts for tobacco. (.1a-top): A figure of a chieftain wearing an elaborate form of the chihongo headdress. The figure is in a seated position with heels of feet touching. The arms are held in front of torso. The head is on a slant with typical Chokwe features--almond shaped eyes which are outlined and an almond shaped mouth. The back of the headdress extends down to the middle of the back and its end tapers to a point. The figure is highly patinated. (.1b-lower part): The top of the container is fluted around its edge. The center is incised in three areas with concentric bands. CONDITION: The end of the top part which fits into the bottom container is covered with masking tape over which has been placed scotch tape. There is a check where the heels join. The right forearm has been broken off and rejoined. There are two small pin-like openings on each front end of the headdress. There is a check on the back of the right arm from elbow to midpoint of lower part of arm. Small circular piece of wood has been inserted between index and third fingers on right hand.
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