The half circle is a common shape for Kuba boxes that are used to hold red powder or small valuables. Typically they are decorated with incised geometric patterns similar to those found on textiles. This lid top has a stylized face in relief. It was collected in 1947 in the capital of Mushenge, while Eliot Elisofon was photographing the Kuba king for Life magazine.
Wood semi-circular lidded box with incised geometric design and relief of stylized human face, with eyebrows ending in hands. Traces of red pigment are visible. On the lid's interior are two strips of leather with three tacks each.
Eliot Elisofon, collected Mushenge, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1947 to 1973
Africa ReViewed: The Photographic Legacy of Eliot Elisofon, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., November 21, 2013-December 14, 2014
Staples, Amy J. 2014. "Africa ReViewed: The Photographic Legacy of Eliot Elisofon." Tribal Art 19 (2), no. 71, p. 86, no. 9.