Mangbetu Royal Art and Herbert Lang, 1902-1906

by Enid Schildkrout
Museum for African Art (formerly American Museum of Natural History)

The Great Hall, Okondo’s Village. Mangbetu peoples, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Photo by Herbert Lang. Submitted by Enid Schildkrout.

A king was expected to feed a household that could include several hundred people and to give away most of the spears, knives, musical instruments and other goods he received from subjects. When a king died, the capital was abandoned and the next ruler built a new residence and commissioned artists to make new objects symbolizing his power. Thus regalia did not generally pass between generations and the personality of the individual ruler gave power to the office.