Chaplo Ceremonial Drinking Cup, Bakuba, DR Congo
H: 12 cm (4,7″), W: 11 cm (4,3″)
The Kuba love of form, knowledge of materials, skill in execution, and appreciation of quality are best seen in the number and variety of cups and goblets, mostly for drinking palm wine. There are reports – not confirmed – that these cups might have been used in the poison ordeal. Among the Kuba, as among other African tribes, death was never attributed to natural causes but to malevolent spirits or to witchcraft. The person suspected of using witchcraft was required to drink poison from such a cup. If he vomited up the drink, he was declared innocent. On the other hand, his death proclaimed his guilt and constituted his punishment.
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