Negbe, Mangetu, D.R. Congo

Woman’s Bustle Ornament  negbe
Mangbetu People, D.R.Congo

First half 20th century
Banana leaf and other fiber, appliquéd and embroidered
15″ wide x 10″ high x 3′ deep   (38 x 25.5 x 7.5 cm)

Fewer old pieces in this technique seem to have survived due to their fragility.
This negbe is in excellent condition and has a complex and elegant pattern.
It can be displayed on a stand or on the wall.

Worn at the lower back, the graphically patterned negbe ornament echoed the elegant oval form of the Mangbetu woman’s striking coiffure, recorded in famous sculptural representations of the Mangbetu queen and early photographic portraits of women of the Mangbetu court. Incidentally, both the shape and the patterning are also seen on Mangbetu dwellings, which were painted with large scale black and white geometric designs. The traditions were well documented in the 1920s and one has to wonder about the stylistic relationship to Art Deco design (and, indeed, what the source or direction of influence).
From a Belgian colonial family collection


Berkeley, CA