Tribes #4: Mangbetu – The Cone Heads

The Mangbetu were a rich, powerful and advanced race. But what you’ll notice first is that they have cone shaped heads.

The ruler of the tribe at the time Georg visited (1870) was a chap called Mbunza. Georg was impressed with the thousands of subjects, the multitude of buildings and the richness of their art and metallurgy. In the huts he found hundreds of polished copper lances, iron spears and knives, musicians, eunuchs, jesters, singers and dancers.

Mangbetu Women

Despite some unsubstantiated rumours of cannibalism, compared to other people of the Congo the Mangbetu were nailing culture hard. Nowadays their economy is a mixture of agriculture, small animal husbandry, hunting, fishing and gathering.

Mangbetu Tribe - Dancing Group

They also make some cash out of palm oil, coffee, peanuts, rice, bananas, and maize crops.

So, out of all of the tribes we’ve covered in this series, these guys seem to have done the best for themselves. As with all traditional ways of life across the globe, their culture is slowly being diluted and dying out. That just seems to be the way of things unfortunately. But at least we’ve still got some cool photos to remind us of their heyday.

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