Tag Archives: Kongo

Kongo across the Waters

Kongo Across the Waters

As stated before, the Royal Museum for Central Africa of Tervuren (RMCA) will be closing for 3 years while many of its objects will be travelling the world. One of the stops is the the Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida. In close collaboration with the RMCA it will display and travel the first exhibition in the United States to explore deeply the legacy of Kongo culture in both Central Africa and in North America.

Kongo across the Waters, opens at the Harn Museum October 22, 2013, and presents more than 160 works of historic and contemporary art and artifacts-including loans from the Royal Museum for Central Africa that have never been on display in the United States and several never before exhibited archaeological discoveries – spanning more than five centuries from the late 15th century when Kongo first emerged as a major Atlantic presence, to the present day. Accompanying the exhibition are a richly-illustrated book and international conference documenting and analyzing milestones in the history of African presence in North America.

Much more information can be found on the exhibition’s website here.

Kongo peoples, Lower Congo, DRC, Ivory scepter, 19th century, Collection RMCA Tervuren, EO.0.0.43708. Photo R. Asselberghs , RMCA Tervuren

Kongo peoples, Lower Congo, DRC, Ivory scepter, 19th century, Collection RMCA Tervuren, EO.0.0.43708. Photo R. Asselberghs, RMCA Tervuren.

African Fetishes and Ancestral Objects (Five Continents, 2014)

African fetisches and ancestral objects 1

Published by Five Continents, African Fetishes and Ancestral Objects is an upcoming publication about a Brussels-based private collection. It features ca. 70 objects from four African style groups: the Kongo, Teke, Luba and Songye. Each object is described meticulously by François Neyt and illustrated with multiple beautiful pictures taken by Hughes Dubois. I was happy to contribute numerous related field-photos and drawings. Among others, I found an old drawing from 1888 featuring a Bwende man with the same hairstyle and scarifications as a pictured figure; as well as a field-photo by Burton showing one of the carvers of the Mwanza workshop (see below). The majority of the shown figures have never been published before and this book definitely puts them on the map. It’s very praiseworthy that the anonymous collector succeeded in bringing them together at this point in time; the close guidance by Didier Claes may have played an important role in the rediscovery of so many important objects.

African fetisches and ancestral objects 2

African fetisches and ancestral objects 3

African fetisches and ancestral objects 4

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Among the primitive Bakongo (Weeks, 1914)

A very informative book with some great field-photos, available for free here (20 MB, file info).

Among the primitive Bakongo (Weeks, 1914)

As read here, more old publications on African art are downloadable in pdf-format on the website of the Cultural Heritage Library of the Smithsonian Libraries.

We’ve been building this Congolese collection at the Warren M. Robbins Library for 33 years and are pleased to be able to share it with scholars and students globally, especially those living and working on the continent of Africa, where none of these books are likely to be found. Of particular interest is the set entitled Congo illustré, which contains historical photographs of Congolese society, Belgian colonial & missionary enterprises, and flora & fauna.

Their database can be searched here.

Kongo exhibition in Leipzig

Until June 2nd you still have the chance to visit Minkisi. Skulpture vom unteren Kongo at the Grassi Museum in Leipzig, Germany. The majority of the 118 objects are shown for the first time to the public. Many of them were acquired from Robert Visser, who worked for the Dutch trading company Nieuwe Afrikaansche Handels-Venootschap on the Loango coast of West Central African between 1882 and 1904. Visser sent home to Germany at least four large collections of ethnographic objects which he distributed among the ethnographic museums of Berlin, Leipzig and Stuttgart. Other minkisi in this exhibition were collected during the Loango-expedition between 1873 and 1876; in other words: well worth a visit!

Read more about it here

MINKISI-Skulpturen-vom-unteren-Kongo-GRASSI-Museum-für-Völkerkunde-zu-Leipzig-1
MINKISI-Skulpturen-vom-unteren-Kongo-GRASSI-Museum-für-Völkerkunde-zu-Leipzig-7

You can find more pictures here

The exhibition is also accompanied by a catalogue.

23 x 30 cm, 256 pages, 140 pictures

23 x 30 cm, 256 pages, 140 pictures

UPDATE: I just received the exhibition catalogue and it’s a must-have. 139 minkisi are presented, many accompanied by the original contextual information and published for the very first time. Excellent study material. In the back are another 60 figures (drawings and b/w pictures) with the figures that left the museum or were destroyed during the world wars. The book also features four informative articles: an introduction to minkisi in Englisch by Wyatt MacGaffey and three articles in German about Robert Visser, the Loango empire and the Loango-expedition.

UPDATE 2: a video tour is available on Youtube.