Kopa (Ceremonial Cup)

By: Adenike Cosgrove Tagged:


Yaka community leaders have a number of items that form part of their royal collection. One of these items is the kopa ceremonial cup (also called koopa or mbassa; used by the Suku too). Presented to every new chief at his initiation, kopa cups are traditionally used to drink palm wine during ritual ceremonies to demonstrate authority and power. During a chief's reign, no one else is allowed to touch the kopa without authority from the chief himself. At the death of the chief, the kopa is passed down to his successor who must recite the names of previous owners of the cup.

Distinguishing Features

  • Carved from a single piece of wood
  • Hemispherical form
  • Oval shaped
  • Two-mouthed vessel - double openings
  • Cavity is not divided - two holes joined by a rib in the centre
  • Each side of cup bears a carved image (associated with nkisi hemba to ward of unauthorised touching of cup)
  • Some feature a slender handle at the top in the form of a human torso
  • Some feature feet at the bottom of the vessel
  • Rounded base
  • Very smooth finish

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