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Currently shown

Effigy Vessel

Location

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO, UELE VALLEY

Era

Belgian Colonial period (1885-1960)

Culture

Mangbetu

Title

Effigy Vessel

Date

Early 20th c.

Materials

Incised earthenware

Dimensions

25 x 17.2 x 15.2 cm

Credits

Purchase, the Museum Campaign 1998-2002 Fund, inv. 2009.55

Collection

Archeology and World Cultures

From approximately 1890 to 1940, men in the Uele Valley created earthenware effigy vessels, making a foray into a field traditionally reserved for women. The first European accounts of the Mangbetu royal courts remarked upon the sophistication of their art, but made no mention of anthropomorphic objects. It was therefore after their initial contact that artists in the region began to produce this type of vessel, probably intended for elite Europeans and Africans. The figures on them are depicted with the elongated heads and elaborate hairstyles characteristic of the Mangbetu aristocracy, a style that seems more closely related to the political dominance of the Mangbetu at the time than the ethnic identity of the artists. Here the inscription Nyangala may correspond to the name of the artist, or to Niangara, the area where a number of such vessels came from.

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