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Zombo Woman's Apron

Tribe Dynasty

Zombo

Country Of Origin

DRC

Date

Early 20th century?

Size

94 x 42 cms (37 x 16½ ins)

Materials

Cotton and wool

Technique

Pieced and sewn

It is difficult to write anything informative about this piece as we can find no other published examples in the literature or in the online museum databases we consult. What we do know about it comes from the tags. One tag is printed “Visual Education Department Baptist Missionary Society Congo” and hand written on the back is “loin cloth” which it is surely not. The Baptist Particular Missionary Society became the Baptist Missionary Society in 1891 and they had been active in the Congo since 1873. A second handwritten tag reads “Belgian Congo Zombo Woman’s Loin Cloth. The Congo became known as the Belgian Congo in 1908. The apron or loincloth is hand sewn from striped cotton and red and blue British woolen trade cloth.

What we have discovered is that the Zombo (also known as the Bazombo, Nzombo and even the Zoombo) are a tribe who were historically linked to the Kongo Kingdom but severed their ties in the 18th century. They were traders in all manner of goods but slaves were their main business, acting as intermediaries between the Portuguese on the coast and suppliers in the interior. When the slave trade was abolished during the 19th century their economy collapsed and they were reduced to a subsistence existence.

Price

Price on request

Reference No

1989

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