image for Cup
Label Text
Although the Chopi are known for their elegant carvings of headrests and staffs, their carved cups are rare. This example has a truncated conical body and a gracefully curved tripartite handle. There is an unornamented triangular crest opposite the handle. A Chopi artist designed this cup for utility more than for the elaboration of its surface.
Leaders and men of high status probably used cups of this type. Many African societies observe ritual libations that utilize cups and pots. Missionary Julian Rea, who collected a similar cup (now in the collection of the Peabody Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts), indicated that it was used in a ceremony in which the chief poured out a sacrifice of beer. The Peabody's collection data notes that its cup was collected in 1937 in the area of Inhambane in southern Mozambique. This cup probably dates to the same period.
Pedestal cup with a shield motif and three piece winged handle.
Merton Simpson, New York, -- to 1990
Exhibition History
Art of the Personal Object, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., September 24, 1991-April 9, 2007
Published References
National Museum of African Art. 1999. Selected Works from the Collection of the National Museum of African Art. Washington, D.C.: National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, p. 173, no. 128.
Credit Line
Museum purchase
See more items in
National Museum of African Art Collection
Mid-20th century
Object number
Chopi artist
H x W: 15.2 x 15.2 cm (6 x 6 in.)
National Museum of African Art