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Equatorial Africa: Material Culture from Peoples of the Congo, Uganda and Kenya

Equatorial Africa: Material Culture from Peoples of the Congo, Uganda and Kenya

Equatorial Africa is an area of the continent consisting of diverse cultures, climates, and equatorial africa mapvegetation. The environment of the Congo (the present-day countries of the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo) and Uganda ranges from rain forest to savanna. Kenya's boundaries encompass mixed forest and grassland in the west and steppe and desert in the east and along the coastline. Adaptations to these environments have resulted in two predominant subsistence methods in Equatorial Africa - agriculturalism and pastoralism.

This online exhibit presents material culture related to the lifeways of a number of agricultural and pastoral groups of this region. These materials from the Museum's ethnographic collections include a variety of weapons, musical instruments, and personal and domestic items.


Cultural Groups [opens in new window]

Maps [opens in new window]
Maps used in this exhibit courtesy of World Factbook and ArtToday.

Museum Collection Databases


Bassani, Ezio, Sandro Bocola, Hans Himmerlheber, et al. African Seats edited by Sandra Bocola (Munich: Prestel, 1995).

Benitez, Johannot, Jean Paul Barbier Shields: Africa, Southeast Asia, and Oceania: from the Collections of the Barbier-Mueller Museum, translated from French by David Radzinowicz Howell (Munich: Prestel, 2000).

Bisson, Michael S., S. Terry Childs, Philip de Barros, & Augustin F. C. Holl Ancient African Metallurgy: the Sociocultural Context (New York: Altamira Press, 2000).

Brincard, Marie-Therese Sounding Forms: African Musical Instruments (New York: American Federation of Arts, 1989).

Ginzberg, Marc African Forms (Milano: Skira, 2000).

Herold, Erich African Art (London: Hamlyn, 1990).

LaGamma, Alisa, John Pemberton III Art and Oracle: African Art and Rituals of Divination (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000).

Maurer, Evan M., Niangi Batulukisi Spirits Embodied: Art of the Congo: Selections from the Helmut F. Stern Collection (Minneapolis: Minneapolis Institute of Arts,

Olson, James S. The Peoples of Africa: an Ethnohistorical Dictionary (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1996).

Reader, John Africa: a Biography of the Continent (New York: Vintage, 1997).

Sieber, Roy African Furniture and Household Objects (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1980).

Spring, Christopher African Arms and Armor (Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1993).

Westerdijk, Peter African Metal Implements: Weapons, Tools, and Regalia: Collection of Frederick and Clair Mebel (Greenvale, New York: Hillwood Art Gallery,

Willet, Frank African Art: an Introduction (New York: Praeger, 1971).

Zaslavsky, Claudia Africa Counts: Number and Patterns in African Cultures (Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books, 1999).

Check the University of Missouri-Columbia Libraries for these references.

This exhibit was prepared by student assistants Elizabeth Bland and Charmagne Thompson.

Image Galleries


Personal Items


Image Galleries

Domestic Items

Musical Instruments