X85.455 Trumpet

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Democratic Republic of Congo
Zande peoples
L: 7.6 cm, H: 12.1 cm, D: 10.2 cm (L: 2.9 in, H: 4.7 in, D: 4.0 in)
Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of Helen and Dr. Robert Kuhn. X85.455


This Ivory trumpet, or oliphant, is an example of a musical instrument commissioned by the Mangbetu royal court from Zande artists. It was played in the court and represents royal power and presence. Often trumpeting accompanied the king and his wife when they performed a dance called “mabolo,” Trumpets also announced the king’s movements and his victories. Nowadays, Mangbetu elders claim that the face on many instruments, including ivory trumpets like this one, is a portrait of Queen Nenzima, the advisor to Mangbetu kings between 1875 and 1926.

Source: DjeDje, J. C. (1999). “Turn Up the Volume! A Celebration of African Music”, Los Angeles: UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. page 311