Smoking and Drinking
By Victoria Rovine
University of Florida (formerly University of Iowa)
Early European visitors to the powerful Kuba kingdoms of central Democratic Republic of the Congo were amazed by the sophistication of Kuba woodcarving, metalwork, and embroidery. In fact, early observers assumed that Kuba artists could not themselves have created these objects but must have been influenced by Western art, an assumption in keeping with the racist attitudes of many early Western visitors to the continent. Characterized by intricate curvilinear designs and smoothly finished surfaces, Kuba woodcarving adorns a wide variety of utilitarian objects, from storage boxes and pipes to drums and figurative sculpture.