Bowl bearer (mboko)

Possibly by Kitwa Biseke (1910–1935)

Object Place: Democratic Republic of the Congo


46.99 cm (18 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


On View

Richard B. Carter Gallery (Gallery 171)


Africa and Oceania



A kneeling female bowl-bearer called mboko is one of several important sculptural genres found throughout the wider area of Luba influence. Commonly placed before the house of a woman who has borne her first son, these works were also employed in divination contexts. This heavily patinated example from the central Shankadi region has a distinctive cruciform coiffure and raised diamond-shaped keloids on the torso. The detachable lid of the bowl bears a similar head with slit eyes and composed features.


Private collection, Belgium. August 5, 1992, sold by Marc Leo Felix (dealer), Brussels, to William and Bertha Teel, Marblehead, MA; 1996, partial gift of William and Bertha Teel to the MFA; 2014, acquired fully with the bequest of William Teel to the MFA. (Accession Dates: December 18, 1996 and February 26, 2014)

Credit Line

Gift of William E. and Bertha L. Teel