Silk throughout the African continent, £10.99
Height: 103.000 cm
Width: 27.000 cm
Depth: 22.000 cm
Donated by Henry Christy
Drum with European figure
Kongo people, Democratic Republic of
19th century AD
The base of this drum is carved in the form of a seated European, possibly a slave trader, holding a bottle and glass. The Kongo people living around the mouth of the River Congo incorporated European imported items into their carvings. This figurative drum gives a valuable insight into the commercial relationship between Africans and Europeans at this time.
The Kingdom of Kongo had developed a close trading relationship with the Portuguese from the late fifteenth century onwards and this area and the coastal region continued to be an important centre for trade and exchange. Between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries hundreds of thousands of slaves were exported from Africa by Europeans. To meet the increased European demand for slaves, African rulers waged wars with weaker neighbours or carried out raids. Alcohol was among the luxury goods exchanged by the Europeans for slaves, so traders are often shown holding a goblet or bottle.