Luba, probably early 20th century AD
From the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire)

A divination instrument

This small wooden double-headed object, collected by Emil Torday (1875-1931), the Hungarian ethnographer, was at first described by him as a 'snuff-grinder'. Snuff is prepared from the green leaf of the tobacco plant which is dried and ground into a powder and is taken by men.

However, scholars have since concluded that it is, in fact, an instrument used in divination, called a luboko. Diviners are consulted on a variety of matters, from the source of illness or infertility to the identification of thieves or witches. The diviner and his client each hold one side of the object, thus creating a mystical link between them during the consultation.

Find in the collection online

More information


J. Mack, Emil Torday and the art of the (London, The British Museum Press)


Height: 8.900 cm

Museum number

AOA 1904.11-19.3


Gift of Emil Torday


Find in the collection online

Related objects

Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore