African art > Spoons, ladles > Mangbetu Spoon
Mangbetu Spoon (N° 22523)
Spoon with the characteristics of Mangbetu ceremonial objects. The handle depicting two long twisted necks bears a sculpture of a capped head according to traditional use, the result of a compression of the cranial box, thanks to raffia ties, from an early age. The hair was then intertwined around wicker strands and a headband encircled the forehead, accentuating the elongation of the skull.
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Erosions and cracks.
Height with base: 55 cm.
The Mangebetu kingdom in northern Congo produced architectural works that impressed European visitors in the 19th century. Their furniture, weapons, ornaments and statuary were imbued with a rare aesthetic quality. The ancients call beli the anthropomorphic figures embodying ancestors, stored out of sight, and comparable to those belonging to their secret society nebeli.
The ethnologist G.A. Schweinfurth in 1870 described the symmetry and refinement of the Mangbetu kingdom, while at the same time witnessing the ritual murders and human sacrifices practiced by "the people of the reclining heads".