African art > Terracotta, jar, amphora, funerary urn > Jarre Mangbetu
Mangbetu terracotta vase (N° 18227)
A globular body surmounted by a female head styled according to the barrels of the ethnic group affirms the elegance of mangbetu pottery, symbol of fertility. The motifs engraved on the surface echo the traditional scarifications. The work of ceramics, in West and Central Africa, is carried out by women, wives of blacksmiths in the majority of cases. The Mangbetu women, who also produced basketry, excelled in this art.
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In the forest in northeastern Zaire, the Mangbetu kingdom has expressed itself through architectural works that impressed European visitors in the 19th century. Their furniture, weapons, adornments and statuary were imbued with a rare aesthetic quality. The Mangbetu story was based on the refinement of his court but also on cannibalistic customs. King Mangbetu Munza was so dubbed The cannibal king. The ethnologist G.A. Schweinfurth in 1870 described its refinement, while at the same time testifying to the ritual killings and human sacrifices practiced by the people of elongated heads, to indicate this characteristic deformation of the cranial box obtained from compression, from an early age.