Yombe funerary effigy

This figure is a Yombe funerary effigy. It is a painted carving of a figure with African features wearing a European style short jacket and a hat. It is holding a flintlock gun.

Figures like these were not meant to capture the spirit of the deceased but instead were intended to commemorate their successful life. This figure was collected by Vice-Admiral R. F. Hammick (1843–1922), who served on the west coast of Africa in 1876–77 in HMS 'Cygnet' and again in 1883 in HMS 'Flirt'.

The Yombe, who are a sub-group of the Kongo people, come from the lower Zaire River in the present-day Democratic Republic of Congo. The figure probably represents the wealth and status the deceased accrued through trade and contact with Europeans. Trade and demand for European goods escalated through the period of transatlantic slavery and continued to be important even after the abolition of the slave trade.

Object Details

ID: AAA2818
Collection: World Cultures
Type: Carving
Display location: Display - Atlantic Gallery
Date made: circa 1870
Exhibition: The Atlantic: Slavery, Trade, Empire; Enslavement and Resistance
People: Kongo Peoples; Hammick, R. F. Hammick, A. R.
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Overall: 585 x 270 x 190 mm

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