African art > Used objects, pulleys, boxes, loom, awale > Powder flask

Bakongo powder flask (N° 21104)

Piriform container with a stopper, intended to contain gunpowder for wooden rifle. This black powder was imported from Europe, which made it a luxurious commodity that was carefully preserved. This powder, which was also attributed with magical virtues, often completed the ingredients of ritual fetishes. The walls are delicately engraved with animal motifs and a decorative diamond pattern on the cap of the object. Dark satin patina. In the 13th century, the Kongo people, led by their king Ne Kongo, settled in a region at the crossroads of the present-day DRC, Angola and Gabon. Two centuries later, the Portuguese came into contact with the Kongo and converted their king to Christianity. Although monarchical, the Kongo political system had a democratic aspect because the king was actually placed at the head of the kingdom following an election held by a council of tribal governors. This king, also called ntotela, controlled the appointment of court and provincial officials. The nganga, at the same time healers, were in charge of religious activities and mediation towards the God called Nzambi through consecrated figures called nkisi.
Ref : "La Maternité dans l'art d'Afrique noire" Massa ; "l'Art tribal d'Afrique noire" Bacquart. Marc Léo Félix "Art and Kongos".  

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OriginColl. belge L. Van Liere
EthnyBakongo
Countryrdc ex zaire
Material(s)wood
Height13
Width6
Weight0.13 Kg

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