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Snuff Container (Tesa Ya Ma Kanya)

Arts of Africa

The body of this female figure seated on a chair has been hollowed out to hold snuff. The head and neck serve as a stopper. Containers such as this one were emblems of high status and were used by Chokwe rulers to serve snuff to important visitors or to make offerings of snuff on ceremonial occasions. The royal female ancestor sits on a chief’s throne holding her breast to symbolically nurture the chiefdom.
MEDIUM Wood, iron, fiber
DATES 19th century
DIMENSIONS 5 1/2 x 2 3/16 x 3 in. (14 x 5.5 x 7.6 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
CREDIT LINE Museum Expedition 1922, Robert B. Woodward Memorial Fund
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Carved wooden snuff box, representing female figure seated on edge of European-style chair. Hollowed body used to hold snuff; head and neck provided stopper. Female wears large earrings of 3 iron chain links in right ear, and anklets above feet. Well patinated; shows signs of use. Condition: Good
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Chokwe. Snuff Container (Tesa Ya Ma Kanya), 19th century. Wood, iron, fiber , 5 1/2 x 2 3/16 x 3 in. (14 x 5.5 x 7.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Expedition 1922, Robert B. Woodward Memorial Fund, 22.1089. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 22.1089_PS2.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 22.1089_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2007
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