Democratic Republic of the Congo

This region is home to numerous cultures and their art.

16th–20th century C.E.

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Tshibumba Kanda Matulu, <i>Le 30 juin 1960, Zaïre indépendant</i>
Tshibumba Kanda Matulu, Le 30 juin 1960, Zaïre indépendant

In a series of 100 paintings, Tshibumba Kanda Matulu tells the history of Zaïre, or present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Female <em>(pwo)</em> Mask
Female (pwo) Mask

This mask was made and worn by men, but its purpose is to honor women who have bravely survived childbirth.

Figurative Harp <em>(Domu)</em> (Mangbetu peoples)
Figurative Harp (Domu) (Mangbetu peoples)

European patrons encouraged artists to include human forms on objects that were previously nonfigurative.

Buli Master, possibly Ngongo ya Chintu, Prestige Stool: Female Caryatid (Luba or Hemba peoples)
Buli Master, possibly Ngongo ya Chintu, Prestige Stool: Female Caryatid (Luba or Hemba peoples)

This stool reminds the king to thank his mother for his power, and is so important that it has its own bodyguard.

Double Prestige Panel (Kuba peoples)
Double Prestige Panel (Kuba peoples)

Though many raffia textiles were made as garments for and by both men and women, this one was intended for display.

Crucifix (Kongo peoples)
Crucifix (Kongo peoples)

During its brief fling with Christianity, the Kongo kingdom merged western iconography with local aesthetics.

Seated Figure (Tumba) (Kongo peoples)
Seated Figure (Tumba) (Kongo peoples)

Embodying responsible and wise leadership, the sculpture presents an ideal image of the deceased.

Headdress (Yaka peoples)
Headdress (Yaka peoples)

Although the specific meaning of the imagery is unclear, Yaka masks generally illustrate ideas about gender differences.

<em>Lukasa</em> (Memory Board) (Luba peoples)
Lukasa (Memory Board) (Luba peoples)

Long before the advent of cell phones and social media, the Luba had invented their own handheld memory device.

<em>Ndop</em> Portrait of King Mishe miShyaang maMbul (Kuba peoples)
Ndop Portrait of King Mishe miShyaang maMbul (Kuba peoples)

The king did not sit for this portrait; in fact, the artist carved it without directly observing his subject.

Power Figure (<em>Nkisi Nkondi</em>), Kongo peoples
Power Figure (Nkisi Nkondi), Kongo peoples

These fascinating spiritual figures became prime targets for the ire of Christian missionaries in the 19th century.

Selected Contributors