Ritual Messengers

Featured artifacts

| Ritual figures | Mask | Stool | African symbols | Sources |

  The Royal Museum for Central Africa houses the world's richest and most famous ethnographic collections from Central Africa. The collections, exceptional for their historical value, include some artifacts from the seventeenth century, although the majority were collected around the turn of this century. Soon after the Museum was founded (1897-1898), a number of scientific missions were sent to Central Africa to explore every part of its immense territory and the first, meticulously documented collections were sent back to Tervuren. Since that time, the Museum has steadily continued to collect objects from and data about Central Africa's different ethnic groups, through missionaries or colonial authorities familiar with the scientific objectives of the Tervuren Museum. More recently, this work has been carried out by Museum staff during ethnographic missions. So it is that research continues relentlessly, yet in a manner that respects African cultures and adheres to a strict code of ethics.

In selecting the treasures for this particular exhibition, aesthetic value and rarity, as well as anthropological context were decisive factors, and for this reason some recently made objects have been included (one was collected as recently as 1991). Because the wealth of the Museum's ethnographic collections lies first and foremost in its huge — and often very ancient — collections of the Kongo and Luba peoples, these two cultural groups are well represented in the exhibition.

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