Nationality & Life Dates:
Democratic Republic of the Congo
12 1/2 × 6 × 6 inches
Purchase in honor of Debbie Wagner, President of the Members Guild, 2002–2003
On View - Wieland Pavilion, Lower Level, Gallery 102, African Collection
This intricately detailed anthropomorphic vessel was made as a prestigious gift. Its elegant form depicts the aristocratic hairstyle worn by royal men and women of the Mangbetu kingdom in central Africa at the turn of the century. By the early 1920s the Belgian Queen Elizabeth visited central Africa and photographed a woman of the Mangbetu court; her portrait was then circulated on the Belgian stamp and images of royal Mangbetu women proliferated throughout the 1920s and 1930s. The image became an important icon for Harlem Renaissance artists, inspiring Aaron Douglas’s cover image for Opportunity magazine and many other works.