The Basenji Club of America African Stock Project

Project Library


Russell V. Brown

  Currently on display at our Virginia Commonwealth University art museum is a display of African artifacts of the Kuba tribe. These are on loan from the Hampton Institute which is a black college at Hampton, Virginia. I had an opportunity to discuss this collection with Dr. Reginia Perry, professor of Art History here and an authority on African art. She showed me a miniature canoe, about 16 inches long, carved from a piece of wood in much the same fashion that a dugout canoe is made. She told me that this article was used as a dog dish. She though it quite interesting that a man named Sheppard1 had written about these dogs in the early 1900's, and noted that they could howl, but could not bark. He had written that when hunting, the owners tied wooden bells with wooden clappers around their necks and that because each bell sounded different than the others, the owners could identify their own dog by the sound of the bells.  
  Dr. Perry had never heard of a Basenji, but has now been so informed. The dog dish that she showed me was collected among the Kuba tribe in 1905. The dish had probably been used many years, so it was probably quite old when brough out of Africa. I have carefully measured the canoe-dish and have carved an exact duplicate. Well, almost exact. I have used Basswood (Linden) to carve from, which is a different wood than the original. Also, mine does not have a crack in it. Incidentially, the dish has a hole at each end. I suspect the Africans tied the dish to something to keep the dogs from carrying it away. The Kuba tribe is sometimes called the Bakuba. Dr. Perry tells me this is not correct in the "ba" at the beginning or end of a word mean the. So that Bakuba would mean the the Kuba. ...

1 William H. Sheppard - lived in the Congo Free State (now Democratic Republic of the Congo) from 1890 until 1910 as a missionary.


Excerpt reprinted from
The Basenji
Volume XVII Number 4 April 1980 p. 11
Copyright © 1980 The Basenji, All Rights Reserved
Used with permission.