Animal Imagery

By Mary Nooter Roberts
University of California, Los Angeles

Tanzania; Karagwe peoples

Buffalo

Iron

H. 19 cm (7 ½ ")

The University of Iowa Museum of Art, The Stanley Collection, X1990.631

Sometimes the image of a particular animal is a symbol for actual wealth. Among Karagwe people of Tanzania, one of the items in the royal treasury is a forged iron figure of a buffalo. Henry Morton Stanley saw ten such figures in 1876 in the court of King Rumanika at Bweranyange. Oral tradition of the court indicated that they had been forged by Rumanika's father, Ndagara, for the fertility of cattle, which was the principal source of wealth in the Kingdom of Karagwe.