Lot: 251

98th Auction

Figurally carved vessel lid ("proverb lid")

D. R. Congo, Bakongo

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
L: 8.9 inch;
B: 6.7 inch
3500 EUR
plus 23 % commission, VAT, transport and insurance

wood, missing part

This vessel lid is carved with particularly elaborate figures. In particular, note the physiognomy and body of the female figure seated on the stool and the expectant posture of the dog crouching in front of her.

According to Felix such vessel covers represented metaphorical scenarios and proverbs. They were the property of and retained by a female association that would lend them to women as need arose.

A woman who wished to communicate a complaint to her husband would use a lid symbolizing the appropriate message to cover his food vessel, which was then displayed at the serving of his meal taken with other males, obliging the man to act accordingly or lose face.


Felix, Marc L. (ed.), Kongo Kingdom Art, China 2003, p. 163, cat. 4,26