Dimensions: H:26.0" W:11.8" L:11.8" Weight: 16.5 lbs.
Mangbetu Terracotta - Mangbetu artwork includes boxes, jars, stools, musical instruments, and swords were among the highly constructed utilitarian goods that Mangbetu nobility surrounded themselves with. Around 1900, a distinct tradition of anthropomorphic sculpture related with Mangbetu culture emerged. Ancestral portraits are thought to be represented by wooden figures. The clan heads, who wanted to show off their authority and wealth, pushed for it to be designed specifically in terms of ordinary goods. Pipes, palm wine jars with sculpted figures and heads, tree-bark boxes with covers decorated with heads, harps and trumpets played by wandering musicians, ornamental horns in worked ivory were all displayed during royal celebrations, which took place in large, vaulted sheds. The royal regalia also included decorated thrones and knives. The statues show the Mangbetu tradition of compressing an infant's head with raffia to achieve an elongated skull. A high coiffure that ends in a cup-like finial adds to the elongation.
About the Tribe
The Mangbetu also spelled Monbuttu refers to an amalgam of linguistically and culturally related people in north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The Mangbetu people migrated from modern day Sudan during the 19th century. The group comprises of the Mangbetu, Meegye, Makere, Malele, Popoi and Abelu. The language of the Mangbetu is referred to as Kingbetu. Their elongated heads gave them a distinctive look. At birth the heads of babies were tightly wrapped with cloth in order to give their heads the elongated look. Deformation usually starts just a month after birth for the next couple of years, until the desired shape has been reached or the child rejects the apparatus. The custom of skull elongation, called Lipombo by the natives, was a status symbol among the Mangbetu ruling classes, it denoted majesty, beauty, power and higher intelligence.