Democratic Republic of Congo Culture and Arts

By | September 20, 2021


The most common type of village generally has huts made of wood and intertwined fibers, with a rectangular plan, with a double sloping roof, well-cleaned streets and totally free of grass. Generally, the structure of the village is regular, but not infrequently the huts rise in disorder next to each other, and even the construction technique can turn out to be more coarse. There are also differences in settlement, more or less accentuated, between the various groups: the hut with a “tortoiseshell” roof appears among the mongo, while where the penetration of people from the South has been more pronounced the hut with a conical roof has spread.. In this regard, the bakete’s house is typical, with a circular plan slightly raised from the ground and surmounted by a “beehive” roof. Along the courses of pile dwellings are frequent (typical of Bangalas), while some northwestern populations, including the bakete themselves, build their villages in the thick of the forest. Very elementary is the pygmy village, widespread above all in the forest areas of Ituri, which consists of a set of shelters made of peel or intertwined leaves arranged on a framework of flexible branches. On the other hand, the settlement near the mangbetu, in the eastern plateaus, has quite particular aspects: sedentary farmers, live in houses arranged linearly along the rivers and valleys, or halfway up the slope, separated from the lowlands by groups of banana trees and surrounded by cultivated fields.


According to cancermatters, the indigenous languages ​​of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are almost three hundred, for the most part belonging to the Bantu language family. Therefore we resort to the use of Frankish languages, which are essentially four, all of the Bantu family: Kiswahili and its variety called kingwana are widespread throughout the eastern part of the country (Shaba, Kivu, Eastern Kasai) and count approx. 5 million speakers; the Kikongo (and its simplified form said Kituba), widespread in the province of Bandundu and prevalent use even in the capital Kinshasa, has at least 3 million speakers; the Lingala, spoken along the Congo River on the border with the Republic of Congo by nearly 3 million people; the kiluba, spoken by over 2 million people in the two provinces in Eastern Kasai and Western Europe and part of Shaba. Each of these languages ​​is also used, in its area of ​​influence, as the local administrative language alongside French. Among other Bantu languages, Lomongo and Lonkundo are spoken in the province of Equateur. Along the northern border with the Central African Republic, languages ​​of the Eastern Adamaoua group are spoken such as Sango and Zande, which with the Bantu languages ​​form the largest Niger-Congo language family. Also in the northern region, N of the Aruwimi river, languages ​​of the Nilotic-Saharan group are spoken such as mangbetu or mambettu or mombuttu.


The traditional artistic production of the Democratic Republic of Congo is divided between the two great ethno-linguistic groups of the Sudanese, who occupy the north of the country, and the Bantu, who make up the majority of the population. Among the former, in addition to a modest paliform plastic, the great artistic tradition of the Mangbetu group must be distinguished, with a notable production of ceramics and metallurgy, as well as a refined decorative art. The Congolese Bantu were divided into eight artistic provinces (FM Olbrechts): in the area of ​​the lower Congo, which suffered between the century. XV and XVII Christian influences, there is a singular art of the archaeological age attributed to the group of fiote. It is a soft stone statuary, in which the characters present facial features and body position that are inexplicably reminiscent of Indian art. Other productions from this area are attributable to European influences, such as the refined motherhood with child, probable reminiscences of statues of the Virgin, or like the “fetishes with the mirror”, statuettes whose hollow belly, filled with magical substances, was closed on the in front of an imported mirror, perhaps derived from Christian reliquaries. But the best known products of this area are the so-called nailed fetishes, anthropomorphic wooden figures literally covered with nails. Another area of ​​considerable artistic importance is that inhabited by the Kuba and similar groups, where there is a production of wooden masks adorned with cauri as well as embroidered raffia fabrics, improperly known as “Kasai velvets”. Famous all over the world are the 17 royal statues representing as many sovereigns of that ancient dynasty. Equally important is the region inhabited by the Luba and related peoples (lunda, songhe); here, alongside an art of decorative carving that covers the surface of everyday objects, a three-dimensional sculpture with smooth lines has been developed, which reaches its maximum expression in the village of Buli, with the characteristic “elongated faces”. Finally, the rega should be mentioned (Lega), authors of a very refined art on ivory, including miniature masks. On their own are the lulua, whose statuettes, with their extremely elongated neck and typically represented in a twisted shape, are among the most notable productions in the country.

Democratic Republic of Congo Culture