Ritual Messengers

The Peoples of Central Africa

Anthropomorphic cup. Ngbandi (?). Equator region, Zaïre. Wood, metal, headed nails.
© Africa-Museum, Tervuren

  The Ngbaka, Ngbandi and Mbanja

Of the three ethnic groups residing in the Ubangi region (north-west Zaïre), the Ngbaka have, without doubt, produced the greatest number of finely crafted objects. Most of these are linked to the cult devoted to their mythical ancestors Seto and Nabo, who provide protection, good fortune and healing. Statuettes, kept at the family altar, are regularly venerated with sacrifices, libations, unctions, etc., aimed at activating their magic potential. The Ngbaka also use masks during rituals of the gaza initiation society, an institution also followed by the Mbanja. Ngbandi statuary is associated almost exclusively with ancestor and spirit cults.

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