By Victoria Rovine
University of Florida (formerly University of Iowa)

Chief Okondo, Mangbetu peoples, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1913. Photo by Herbert Lang. 

These anthropomorphic pots may not be an example of long-standing Mangbetu tradition, but instead a response to the growing European presence in the region. The heads, with elongated craniums in typical Mangbetu style, may have been added to previously extant types of pottery for sale to foreign buyers. Anthropomorphic pots are also known to have had local uses, displayed by Mangbetu leaders as they sat in state or used along with a straw to consume palm wine. Pots of this type were also used to hold a mixture of palm wine and a root called naando, consumed by dancers at ceremonial events to energize them and improve their performance (Demolin: 383).