Peoples & Societies


The Mangbetu settled in the northeastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the 19th century and remained a political force until slave traders from North Africa arrived in the region in 1880. Many Mangbetu artworks are decorated with realistic-looking human heads with similar elongated heads and flared hairstyles. Although Mangbetu art is made primarily for the ruling class, artists also create prestige objects, such as knives with ivory handles, harps with figural motifs, and trumpets. Today the Mangbetu peoples number about five hundred thousand.

Excerpt from

Roslyn A. Walker, The Arts of Africa at the Dallas Museum of Art (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009), 303.

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