|The Zande Tribe|
|The Zande total 750,000 and live in northeast Zaire, the Central African Republic, and the Sudan, on the banks of the Ucle River. Always at war with the Mangbetu, whom they finally conquered, they nevertheless were influenced by them. These two peoples came from the Sudan and, from the sixteenth century on, were constantly on the move. |
In 1750, the Vurungura clan furnished rulers to the little kingdoms of the region; their warlike nature led them to dominate their neighbors. Due to an hereditary aristocracy, the king controlled the local chiefs. In addition to a cult devoted to royal ancestors, the Zande have complex funerary rites and on many occasions use oracles of poison. Like the Mangbetu, they have built major architectural structures, among which are the princely palaces that so surprised the first travelers.
Some ancestor and maternity figures are known, as are stylized and refined objects: neck- rests, flyswats, ivory horns, and musical instruments such as drums, sanzas, and curved harps decorated with a head and ending in a pair of legs.
The mani association, created in 1910, celebrates the importance of woman and uses statuettes called yanda. The society's chief would infuse the yanda with his powers by blowing smoke on it and rubbing it with a paste. The pyramid-shaped head, simple in form, has a diamond-shaped face, protruding eyes, and, often, iron rings in its ears and nose. The torso and neck are cylindrical or rectangular, the extremities short. Its outlines are angular and surprisingly abstract. Masks are extremely rare.
According to Francois Neyt (I981), despite their different artistic styles, the Zande and Mangbetu are so intermixed that the cultural influence of the Mangbetu preponderates. Stylistic connections may also be noted with the art of the Kwere and the Zaramo of Tanzania.
E. Evans-Pritchard, Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic Among the Azande (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976). M. Felix, 100 Peoples of Zaire and Their Sculpture, op. cit. F. Neyt, Traditional Art and History of Zaire, op. cit.