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date: 25 August 2019

Zande [Azande]locked

  • John Mack



Central Sudanic-speaking people, about one million in number, occupying the borderlands of Zaïre, the southern Sudan and the Central African Republic. Essentially agriculturalists, they formerly relied heavily on hunting and fishing for subsistence. The highly mixed ancestry of the Zande partly explains the diversity of their arts. They began to emerge during the 18th century from groups who were expanding from the west and exploiting the resources along the northern fringes of the forests. These groups fell under the leadership of the Avongara, the aristocratic clan of the Zande, whose princes and governors ruled the various Zande provinces. Conquered peoples were incorporated into Zande society as subjects, gradually losing their language and separate identity, but contributing their own skills to Zande culture. In addition to trade, a complex system of tribute ensured a constant circulation of goods from distant areas of Zande influence and a wide dispersal of the specialist artistic products of individual regions. Examples of Zande art are to be found, for example, in Tervuren, Koninklijk Museum voor Midden-Afrika (Musée Royal de l’Afrique Centrale); London, British Museum; Birchington, Powell-Cotton Museum; and Oxford, Pitt Rivers Museum, as well as many other European and North American museums. Published illustrations are also very common (...

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