The Kingdom of the Kongo
Janey Richert

external image Kingdom_Kongo_1711.jpg
The picture above is a map of the ancient Kingdom of the Kongo.
The Kingdom of the Kongo people were very religious, had interest in arts and culture, and had connections with people all over the world. They had slave trades with Portugal, and the slaves were eventually sold to the Americas. The Kongo also had a lot of religious beliefs; they were Christian and had a Christian ruler. They had plenty of recourses for art; they mainly used ivory which comes from elephants.

Ivory was the main material they used for making art, because it was easy to find and it was easy to sculpt. When ivory was given to a Manikongo (king or ruler), it would mean that the Manikongo was important, had authority, was powerful, and would live forever. Most of the time when an ivory gift was given to the Manikongo, the ivory had medical herbs and brown clay on the outside. Ivory could be used as a gift, as decorations, to sell, or to show authority (only if you were the Manikongo). As ivory use increased, the amount of ivory production in elephants decreased. They tried to harvest ivory from Asian Elephants, but there wasn’t as much because only one gender produces it, and it is not produced all year long.
external image ivory-sculpture.jpgThis is an Ivory sculpture from the Kongo.
They were very religious, and believed in being Christian. Afonso I was the first Christian Manikongo, and brought the Christian religion to the Kongo people. Afonso I was from Portugal, and was also the first Portuguese Manikongo. He and some other Portuguese people had moved into the Kongo, to make sure that trading would still occur between the Kongo and Portugal. Afonso I encouraged slave trading with the Portuguese. Afonso I sent people to Portugal in return for stone, which they would use to build the first Roman Catholic Church in the Kongo. When he was almost done building the church, he found out that Portuguese would keep receiving slaves from the Kongo, and would ship them off to the Americas. Afonso I helped start and stop the slave trade.
This is a cross from the Kongo.
This is a cross from the Kongo.
This is a picture of a cross from the Kongo.
Military and armies were strong in the Kongo, because of the Kongo’s ally with Portugal. The Portuguese people who had moved into the Kongo helped stop and fight against a internal rebellion started by one of the six sections of the Kongo. The Portuguese were a very important part in the daily life of the Kongo, without them, the people of the Kongo would have gotten defeated by the internal rebellion. The Kongo was divided into six sections, and each section had a mayor. The Manikongo ruled over all six sections. Being the Manikongo was a big responsibility because the Kongo stretched over 115,000 square miles wide. In order to keep the trading system working, every person had to pay taxes. This made their lives luxurious, because trading continued, so people’s houses were furnished.

The Kingdom of the Kongo had a very sophisticated life, with connections to the world, arts, culture, and religion. The Kongo is very important to the development of our Earth, because without Afonso I and the slave trade that occurred that he partially stopped, we could still have slave trading going on today. They were one of the biggest empires in Africa at the time, and were also one of the biggest influences in Ancient Africa. This is how the Kingdom of the Kongo people lived an influenced our lives.

"History Kingdom of Kongo" 
Mangovo Ngoyo
(the same site as the picture of the map)

"Congo Information"
No Author Available

Kathleen DeGuzman

"African Christianity in the Kongo"
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

"Ivory Sculpture"
Michael Carlos Museum

Dona Beatriz