SKULL DEFORMATION BY THE MANGBETUS

The Mangbetu are a people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, living in Orientale Province. The majority live in the villages of Rungu, Poko, Watsa, Niangara, and Wamba.

In 1870, German botanist Georg Schweinfurth was the first European to reach the Mangbetu, who live in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. His exploration account describes them as aristocratic and elegant. Their royal courts, their practice of accentuating the elongation of their heads with elaborate hair styles, their court dances, royal architecture and their arts attracted Western photographers and later film makers in the first half of the 20th century. Profile views of Mangbetu women with the classic coiffure emerged as iconic images and circulated in many media in the West, ranging from postcards, trade cards and postage stamps to sculptures, jewelry, book ends and hood ornaments for cars.