The Kingdom of Kongo
The Kingdom of Kongo was a small nation that was founded in the 1400 century. The Kingdom stretched from the Congo River to the Roje River, from the West coast of Africa to farther than the Kwango River. Later on during the reign of the Kingdom of Kongo, the nation expanded so that is was slightly larger than it already was. The Kingdom of Kongo, in the late 1500, was one of strongest out of some of the states along the coast of Africa. The geography of the Kingdom of Kongo was mostly tropical forest, a fertile valley, a coastal plain, and a central plateau. It is found around the equator, so it is very hot, and humid.

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This is a map of the Kingdom of Kongo drawn around 1400.





Daily Life
In the morning the men would go off to work, at jobs such as a farmer, artist, or possibly a warrior in the army. While the men were at work the women would spend their time cooking, cleaning, and taking care of young children. Food would mainly consist of stews, involving different meats, vegetables (such as potatoes and other starches), and sauces, for the main course. For desert they would eat fresh, native fruit. All of the food that they ate they had to grow themselves, at a farm. The young ladies and girls would spend the day with their mother learning how to do housekeeping and cooking. The young men would go to work with their fathers, and learn how to support a family, for when they are older. Once they are older they will do for their families, what their parents did for them, and cycle continues over for the generations.

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This image shows what the stew that the people in the Kingdom of Kongo would eat for meals every day looked like.


Religion
The Kingdom of Kongo didn’t have a defined religion, before the Portuguese came to the Kingdom, then the entire Kingdom converted over to being Christians. The Mani-Kongo of the time ordered that four officials go the homeland of the Portuguese and become Christians. After five year the officials returned to the Kingdom of Kongo, as “full, fledged” Christians. The Mani-Kongo then decided that it would be of best interest for the people of Kongo to become Christians as well. The people of Kongo converted over to being Christians without hesitation, because they too were very impressed with the Portuguese. However whenever they portrayed their image of God on a piece of art, or another object, he was portrayed as to have the same “skin tone” as the people of Kongo did. Meaning that the Kingdom of Kongo believed in the same religion as the Portuguese, but they had their own “version” of the same religion.

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This is a picture of what the people of Kongo believed God looked like.



Art, Culture, and Technology
In the Kingdom of Kongo the artist got most of their forms of art by observing the Portuguese artist, who had been stationed there by their king. The form in which the art took was mostly sculptures and paintings. However the style in which they portrayed different pieces of art was very different from the more “realistic” looking art works or the Portuguese. The art that the artisans of Kongo made was more based on myths and imagination, than realistically portrayed objects. Such as the vase in the image bellow appears to be of a man with goat horns, in which portrays that it is not of a real man, or that is not what the man really looks like. Therefore it is safe to conclude that when the Portuguese were teaching the people of Kongo to make art very much like their own, the artist of Kongo “picked up” their own style for portraying different object. The image also shows technology, by what tools they had to use to decorate and carve the material, to make the design.

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A piece of art work, made by an artist from the Kingdom of Kongo.


Social and Political Organization
In the “social pyramid” the classes were the government, men, women, and people to be sold as slaves. The Government was at the top of the social pyramid, and consisted of seven people, the king, and his advisors. The King was known as the Mani-Kongo to all. Beneath him were his advisors, or the officials. The officials were the six people who were of high class, and governed the six “sections” of the Kingdom of Kongo. The officials got together every time it was time to pick a new Mani-Kongo, and decided who the next one would be. The men were treated with some respect, but not very much. They were also thought of as warriors, to be put into battle. The women were treated very little respect, and were thought to be the cooks, caretaker, and maids of a household. Men who acted as women were given the same social status as a woman, and were to wear clothing as one. Some people were chosen by the Mani-Kongo to be slaves, and then were sold to the Portuguese, to keep the Portuguese happy, and from attacking the Kingdom of Kongo. Later on, when the Portuguese took control over the Kingdom of Kongo, everyone’s social status got bumped down a few levels, so that most of the people were treated as slaves. The people were not only treated as slaves, but they were sold as slaves too, for most of the reign (1400-1800) of the Kingdom of Kongo, and almost to the end of it reign.


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This is an image of the coat of arms, created by the government, for the Kingdom of Kongo.


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These are some of the routes that the Portuguese used to transport and sell slaves that they took from Kongo.