The Wall Street Journal | Jack Flam:
An exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art looks at Kongo art and discovers history and personal expression.
In 1483 the navigator Diogo Cão, an emissary from the king of Portugal, made the first European contact with the kingdom of Kongo, situated in Central Africa, around the basin of the Congo River. The relationship was initially equitable.
Power Figure (Nkisi N’Kondi: Mangaaka) from the 19th century. Photo: Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Trade was established, and many Kongo people converted to Christianity, including the king himself. But the timing turned out to be very bad for the Africans. The first Europeans arrived on their shores only a decade before the discovery of the New World, which created an enormous demand for human labor. Within a short time the Atlantic slave trade began, and Central Africa became one of its main suppliers…
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