Mangbetu Royal Art and Herbert Lang, 1902-1906

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

Chief Danga, Mangbetu peoples, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Photo by Herbert Lang. Submitted by Enid Schildkrout.

This is a portrait of Chief Danga, showing his carefully braided beard, woven basketry hat, and ivory hat pin. His head has been wrapped in finely braided black raphia thread. Head binding was started at an early age in a child's life and led to a harmless lengthening of the skull, believed, at the time, to be a sign of beauty and aristocratic status.