Tobacco Mortar Supported by a Female Figure

19th–early 20th century

African Art

On view, 1st floor, African Art

Tobacco mortars and boxes were part of the regalia of Chokwe leaders. As both symbols of power and everyday utensils, they were treasured items handed down over generations. This mortar is supported by a female caryatid, possibly meant to represent a female ancestor of great maturity and status.


Wood and leather


8 × 2 × 2 1/4 in. (20.32 × 5.08 × 5.72 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. James Osborn for the Linton Collection of African Art

Accession Number



19th–20th century


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



Dr. Ralph Linton (1893–1953), by 1953 [see note 1]; by descent to his wife, Adelin Hohlfield Linton (1899–1977); sold to Marie-Louise Montgomery Osborn (1905–1968) and James Marshall Osborn (1906–1976), 1954; given to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.,1964

Note 1: Ralph Linton was the Sterling Professor of Anthropology at Yale from 1946 until his death in 1953.
  • Ralph Linton, The Linton Collection of African Sculpture: An Exhibition, March 13 through April 18, 1954, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1954), no. 141
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

mortars (grinding tools)



Technical metadata and APIs


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