Art and Initiation in Western Zambia

by Manuel Jordán
Musical Instrument Museum (formerly Birmingham Museum of Art)

Female chief Nyakulenga, Chief Ishinde Palace, Southern Lunda, Zambia, 1991. Photo by Manuel Jordán.

The histories of Chokwe, Luvale or Lwena, Southern Lunda, Luchazi, Mbunda, and other related peoples may be traced back to Lunda migrations from Democratic Republic of Congo into areas of Angola nearly four centuries ago. Although the different ethnic groups have independent chiefdoms, claiming links to the Mwata Vamvo Paramount Lunda chief in Democratic Republic of Congo has normally been regarded as a legitimizing and validating political factor. Here, Southern Lunda female chief, Nyakulenga, is carried in a procession by members of her court to the palace of her brother, senior Southern Lunda chief Ishinde. Chief Nyakulenga wears a fine robe of imported materials and a beaded chief’s crown with decorative designs of the kind used by chiefs of the Mwata Vamvo court in Democratic Republic of Congo. The Southern Lunda live in Angola and Zambia under different chiefs and are not directly related to the Lunda of the Mwata Vamvo in Democratic Republic of Congo. Their language is different and their social and religious institutions are closer to those of their Luvale, Luchazi, and Chokwe neighbors.