1885 Goddefroy’s Angolese collection

L.R. Werner, Ethnological collection of L.J. Goddefroy. Black and white photograph on cardboard. Collection Het Zuid-Afrikahuis, Amsterdam, id.nr 903. https://collecties.zuidafrikahuis.nl/detail.php?nav_id=2-1&index=4&imgid=412468&id=350988

Material description

Black and white photograph on cardboard of a seated Louis Joseph Goddefroy (1843-1921) surrounded by objects he collected in Angola, between September 1884 – June 1885. The photograph was made by Louis Robert Werner (1834-1896) after Goddefroy’s return to the Netherlands, between September and December 1885. Parts of the collection were auctioned in 1887 and 1902. The name of auctioneer Frederik Muller & Cie. is printed on the lower right corner of the cardboard. The firm added the French caption in 1902: ‘Collection ethnologique réunie par m. L.J. Goddefroy à Angola (Afrique) pendant l’expédition scientifique ayant eu pour chef feu m. Daniël Veth.’ (Ethnological collection brought together by mister L.J. Goddefroy in Angola (Africa), during the scientific expedition led by mister Daniël Veth).

Power figure

In 1882 the Koninklijk Nederlands Aardrijkskundig Genootschap (Royal Dutch Geographical Society) allotted funds for the first Dutch scientific expedition to Africa. Two years later, civil engineer Daniël Veth (1850-1885) received permission to explore Angola, more specifically the surroundings of southern cities like Benguella and Quillenges (Wentholt 2004). Veth would concentrate on geological research, two other members were to collect: P. Van der Kellen gathered natural specimens, and L.J Goddefroy accumulated man-made objects such as religious carvings, amulets, weapons, and utensils for everyday use (Veth and Snelleman 1887: 124-125). In September 1885 Goddefroy returned to the Netherlands with an estimated 1300 objects (De locomotief 1885).

One of the aims of the expedition was to visit the so-called Trekboeren in the remote settlement Humpata. These were white South Africans of Dutch and German descent who had left the Transvaal in 1874 to escape British rule. The expedition remained six weeks in the settlement, an opportunity for Goddefroy to expand his collection with axes, maces, and arrows (De Locomotief 1885). In the photograph, these can be seen hanging against the wall behind Goddefroy.

The most precious items Goddefroy acquired are grouped in the centre of the photograph. Immediately next to his left elbow, there are two conical dark figures, ornamented with white seashells. According to the Dutchman, these were ‘idols’ made of woven plant fiber and were believed to enhance female fertility. He traded these on his way from Benguela to Humpata, for cotton, beads, a dagger, bracelets, and several mirrors (Veth and Snelleman 1887: 355, 352).
In between the two dark figures sits, elevated on a stool, a wooden statue we now know as a nkisi phemba : a kneeling maternity figure (RV-1354-47) with a child in her lap and another child on her shoulder. Another striking nkisi (‘power figure’) is standing near Goddefroy’s knee( RV-1354-46). A white male with a cocked hat and frack coat, presumably modeled after a European sea captain.


Goddefroy in a maxilla or hammock. He was carried by serviçais of the Nederlandsche Handelsvennootschap. Source: Plate IV, P.J. Veth & Joh. F. Snelleman, Daniël Veth’s reizen in Angola (Haarlem 1887).

The Dutch expedition coincided with the Conference of Berlin (November 1884 – February 1885), where the African continent was divided between European nations. Although the Netherlands did not lay claim to an African colony, the country did have considerable commercial interests along the west coast of Africa. From 1857 onwards, the Afrikaansche Handels Vereeniging (African Trading Company) and its successor Nieuwe Afrikaansche Handels-Vennootschap (NAHV) (New African Trading Association), had opened trading posts along the coastline of Congo and Angola. In the course of the 1880s, the NAHV came to dominate the Congo trade.
The business of the NAHV was barter trade: European textiles, weapons, and spirits were exchanged for African produce, notably palm oil, gum, copal, and ivory (Wesseling 1981: 496).
The NAHV provided practical support for Veth and his two associates. They could use the vessels of the company and stay at several trading posts, known as ‘factories’. During a sojourn of almost eight weeks in the main NAHV-factory in the port Banana, Goddefroy bartered European textiles, beads, red coral, and mirrors for an array of ethnographic objects (Veth and Snelleman 1887: 120, 151).

Punitive expedition

To journalists visiting the collection in his home in Amsterdam, Goddefroy explained the power figures were gifts from Portuguese and Dutch employees of the NAHV, who had seized them during punitive expeditions to rebellious villages (De Locomotief 1885) In the newspaper report, Goddefroy did not mention the names of the villages where the NAHV carried out the punishment.

Wijs (2014) identified the villages as Futila and M’Buco-M’Bule in Cabinda, north of the NAHV head factory in Banana. Representatives of the NAHV, together with the Koninklijke Nederlandsche Zeemacht  (Royal Dutch Navy)  arrived in Futila on February 10, 1885. The Dutch indicated a villager was suspected of a plot to kill the Portuguese head agent of the NAHV in Cabinda. Although this suspicion dated from several years earlier, the NAHV demanded an immediate fine of 300 gallons of palm oil and rendition of the suspect. As villagers couldn’t meet these demands, their houses were set on fire two days after the arrival of the NAHV and Dutch navy (Wijs 2014: 16-17).
In her research, Wijs has brought to light other objects in Dutch ethnological museums that were seized from the houses in Futila (Wijs 2014: 12-13). Since Goddefroy’s reference to a punitive expedition is limited to a fleeting remark made to a journalist, it cannot be ascertained with certainty that he acquired the power figures from NAHV-staff who were involved in the penal actions.

Crock with an imprint of the Afrikaansche Handels Vereeniging (AHV). These crocks were used to transport jenever or Dutch gin to Congo and palm oil to The Netherlands. Collection Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, RV-5891-1.

Hundreds of Goddefroy’s objects were sold to the foremost ethnographic institutions of the Netherlands: Artis Natura Magistra in Amsterdam and the Rijks Ethnologisch Museum in Leiden. Initially, he kept the most precious items in his private collection. However, a dire lack of resources compelled him to auction these in 1887. The two power figures remained unsold due to their high price. Consequently, the auction house contacted the ethnological museum in Leiden, which was then able to acquire the nkisi phemba and the power figure in the form of a European captain. Other parts of Goddefroys private collection were bought by a Dutch collector. This unnamed Dutchman sold the objects in 1902; once again it was the Leiden museum that bought the majority of the objects that were collected in Angola, more than seventeen years earlier (Willink 2006: 233).
As a result of fusions of several Dutch ethnological museums between 2014-2017, almost all objects of Goddefroy are now part of one collection that belongs to the Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen (National Museum of World Cultures).


A selection of objects that are discernible in the image:
Bracelet, 19th century, Angola, iron, collected by L.J. Goddefroy, Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, RV-594-59.
Sculpture of a European man, presumably a sea captain, 19th century, Lower Congo River, wood, 35,8 x 11,2 cm, collected by L.J. Goddefroy, Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, RV-1354-46.
Power figure nkisi phemba, 19th century Cabinda (Angola), wood, pigment, glass, textile, resin, 44 × 14,5 cm, collected by L.J. Goddefroy, Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, RV-1354-47.
Seat with a male figure, 19th century, Angola, wood, 64 x 38,5 cm, collected by L.J. Goddefroy, Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, RV-1354-48.
Stool, 19th century, Angola, 25 x 22, collected by L.J. Goddefroy, Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen , RV-1354-49.
Sceptre, 19th century, Chokwe, Angola, 57,7 x 5,8 cm, collected by L.J. Goddefroy, Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, RV-1354-65.
Ceremonial vessel, 19th century, Chokwe, Angola, 7,5 x 22 cm, collected by L.J. Goddefroy, Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, RV-1354-103.
Pair of leather sandals, Quillenges, Angola, 24 cm, collected by L.J. Goddefroy, Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, RV-2668-241 and RV-2668-242.


‘De Nederlandsche Zuid-Afrikaansche Expeditie’, De locomotief : Samarangsch handels- en advertentie-blad. November 12, 1885. Retrieved from Delpher on 13-08-2020, http://resolver.kb.nl/resolve?urn=ddd:010291530:mpeg21:p001

Wentholt, A. 2004. ‘Een Nederlandse expeditie naar Angola 1884-1885’, Nieuwsbrief Vereniging Vrienden van Etnografica 86,  29-42.

Wesseling, H.L. 1981. ‘The Netherlands and the partition of Africa’, The Journal of African history 22/4,  495-509.

Wijs, S. 2014. ‘De collectie Hanken – een bewogen geschiedenis’, Jaarboek van de Vereniging Vrienden Etnografica, 7-32.

Willink, R.J. 2006. De bewogen verzamelgeschiedenis van de West-Centraal-Afrikaanse collecties in Nederland (1856-1889) Ridderkerk: Ridderprint.  222-234.

Veth, P.J. and Snelleman, J.F. 1887. Daniël Veth’s reizen in Angola: voorafgegaan door eene schets van zijn leven. Haarlem: H.D. Tjeenk Willink.

ca. 1880 Kru and ‘Krumanos’

Nineteenth-century European trading factories in Congo and Angola depended on African labour for different tasks. Examples are the Kru, also called Kru-men, and the Krumanos. Both names sound alike, but there was an important difference. The Kru took up paid employment, whereas the Krumanos were forced into labour.

José Augusto. da Cunha Moraes, Portrait of a man from the Kru coast, ca. 1880, Collection Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, id.nr. A45-97 .

Frost explains Kru was the name given by Europeans to inhabitants of communities along the coastline of present-day eastern Liberia. Their highly developed skills in fishing and canoe faring proved and advantage in their interaction with the Europeans. It is believed the development of their maritime skills in the eighteenth century led Kru to be employed on slave ships to the America’s. After Britain outlawed the slave trade in 1808, Kru took up employment on naval ships of the West Africa Squadron; the blockade against illegal ships intent on carrying Africans into slavery in the America’s.1

Frost writes the mobility of the Liberian Kru increased in the nineteenth century when formerly enslaved people from the United States of America were settled in Liberia, under the auspices of the American Colonisation Society. These so-called Settler Liberians competed with the Kru in trade and land acquisition. Kru men migrated to the coastal cities, where European trading companies were expanding their business. Kru became employed as agricultural labourers. palm oil ships, as shoremen, and construction workers 2

‘Factory slaves’

William Holman Bentley (1855-1905) of the Baptist Missionary Society wrote:

‘When we reached to Congo in 1879 all the labour of the trading factories was performed by slaves. […] ‘Kru boys, from the Kru coast about Libera, were the labourers on the coast steamers and factories higher up the coast: so to throw dust in the eyes of those who would make inquiries, the factory slaves about the Congo were called Krumanos. The average price of a Krumano was £ 5.

[…] I have often seen these factory slaves working in chains, four to six chained together by a ring on the neck. Sometimes there might be among the chain-gangs a rowdy slave or two in the chain for punishment; but as a rule, they would be ordinary Krumanos, new or not trusted, kept in the chains to prevent their flight.3

José Augusto. da Cunha Moraes, Portrait of Krumanos, ca. 1870, Collection Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, id.nr. A274-86.

The word ‘Krumanos’ in the description of the photograph by Jose Augusto da Cunha Moraes might mean the men were unfree labourers. According to Vos, European trading companies used local networks to obtain so-called servicais, or enslaved labourers. They were bought or hired from local chiefs, who supplied them to serve for a short or indefinite time. 4 Besides, small numbers of slaves from the interior were a part of ivory caravans to the coast, where they were sold by African middlemen.
Vos cites a report of Onno Zwier van Sandick, (1861-1881), an employee for the Afrikaansche Handelsvereeniging, when he points out the unfree Krumanos received remuneration: they were paid in so-called ‘longs’ (a textile measuring unit of six yards)). They earned two to three longs a month, Vos states this was a reasonable salary compared to Kru ((four longs), canoe men (three longs), female servants (four to six longs) or linguisters (eight to ten longs). 5
Zwiers van Sandick explained the reasoning behind the payment of the Krumanos. They were at all times at the disposal of the Afrikaanse Handelsvereeniging, whereas Kru could be employed for a maximum of sixteen months. Zwiers van Sandick ruled out employing other free African labourers: ‘a free negro doesn’t think of working as soon as he has had enough to eat.’ 6
Vos includes a citation from the British consul Hopkins about the Krumanos of the Dutch Afrikaansche Handelsvereniging, who in 1877 held about 150 slaves.

‘[…] these people are so well treated that, to all intents and purpose, they are free, and they are never sold or exchanged; in fact, it is their boast that they are the children of the Dutch house.’ 7

José Augusto. da Cunha Moraes, Factory of the Afrikaansche Handels Vereeniging seen from the water, in Chissambo (Cabinda, Angola) ca 1870. Collection Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, id.nr.A274-28

However, from the report of Zwier van Sandick, a somewhat different picture emerges. He travelled May 1879 to November 1880 from the headfactory in Banana to smaller factories. The factory in Banana owned fifty slaves, Zwier van Sandick described they were bought at the coast, for about 30 longs, and shipped to Banana. Some ship captains were hesitant to take the Krumanos on board, out of fear for inspections by the British West Africa Squadron. As a solution each Krumano received a contract, the words ‘paid in Banana’ was a code for the AHV these were in fact ‘factory slaves’.
After arrival, Krumanos were immediately chained in a neck collar or libámbo. Zwier van Sandick recalled how the resistance of Krumanos to be chained was forcibly repressed.

‘In October 1879 I witnessed how one continuously yelled: senhór landaáz, grácia-grácia (Sir Dutchman, mercy, mercy). Whereupon the supervisor ordered to lash him into silence – which happened. Completely bloodied he lay numb and had stopped yelling.’

According to Zwier van Sandick these cruelties were persistent in the factories where he was stationed. In case a Krumano died, the costs were debited to the headfactory in Banana.
In the early 1900s, coastal factories would acquire enslaved labourers and traded them illegally or as contract workers.8

ca. 1880 ‘Linguister’

In the period 1870-1890 José Augusto da Cunha Moraes photographed  European trading posts along the coastline of Congo and Angola. The Dutch National Museum of World Cultures holds several of these images in its collection.

José Augusto da Cunha Moraes , Portrait of a mafuka or linguister with his family, ca. 1880. Collection Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, id.nr. A45-39.

Companies like the Nieuwe Afrikaansche Handels Vennootschap (NAHV) built premises, so-called ‘factories’, on plots of land that belonged to local rulers. In return, the companies were obliged to pay for the use of the land. Furthermore, local rulers provided each factory with a representative, or ‘mafuka’.  The mafuka, called ‘linguisters’ by the Europeans, were men of distinct families with in-depth knowledge of local law, politics, and the network of African traders. They negotiated prices between the trading companies and the African traders who brought agricultural produce; thus they were crucial for the profitability of European trade.

José Augusto da Cunha Moraes , Portrait of a mafuka or linguister, ca. 1880. Collection Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, id.nr. A45-38.

All trading companies depended on African labour for an array of tasks, these workers were managed by the linguister. 1 Men and women from the coastal region Cabinda in particular were recruited as canoe men, cooks, carpenters, and domestic servants. Appreciated by European trading agents, the Dutch NAHV-employee Onno Zwier van Sandick described the men and women from this region as ‘relatively developed’ and ‘with potential to be civilized’, claiming they learned their skills of British and Portuguese ships who patrolled the Congolese coast to prevent illegal transatlantic slave shipments.2.

José Augusto da Cunha Moraes, Man and woman from Cabinda, ca. 1870-1889. Collection Nederlands Fotomuseum, id.nr. WMR-902005

1857 – 1868 Kerdijk & Pincoffs

Photographs of José Augusto da Cunha Moraes (1855-1933, in several Dutch museum collections, provide visual information about a Dutch trading firm with settlements along the coastline of Angola and Congo, in the second half of the nineteenth century. Kerdijk & Pincoffs, and its successor ‘Afrikaansche Handelsvereeniging’ (African Trade Association) would come to dominate trade in a region that struggled with the troubled transition from the slave trade to forms of indentured labour.

José Augusto da Cunha Moraes, Office of the Afrikaansche Handelsvereeniging , located at the Largo Tristao da Cunha, Luanda, Angola, ca. 1870. Collection Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, id.nr. RV-A274-6.

Legitimate trade

In 1849 Henry Kerdijk and Lodewijk Pincoffs founded a firm that traded in indigo and madder. Located in the port Rotterdam, shipping was another branch of the company, which gained in importance following the stagnation of the dye trade in the 1850s. 1 In 1857 Kerdijk & Pincoffs bought the British trading company Horsfall & Co. in the village Ambriz, northern Angola.
Together with the firms Tobin & Co. and Hatton & Cookson, Horsfall was one of the three firms from Liverpool in Ambriz. Historians assume these company premises functioned as barracoons for enslaved Africans up to 1807 – when the United Kingdom prohibited the transatlantic slave trade. 2 After 1807 the nature of their business changed to so-called ‘legitimate commerce’ or ‘legitimate trade’: European manufactures, predominantly cotton pieces, weapons and spirits, were traded against African raw materials, notably palm oil, gum copal and ivory. 3

José Augusto da Cunha Moraes, porters of an ivory caravan, Luanda, Angola ca. 1870. Collection Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, id.nr. RV-A45-51.


In 1836 Portugal outlawed the transatlantic slave trade. Nevertheless, the number of illegal shipments of African captives sharply increased between 1830-1865. Whereas Luanda had been the most important port of embarcation in Central Africa during the slave trade, Portuguese-Brazilian merchants and slave smugglers from Spain and Cuba relocated further north to the port Ambriz.4 Slave trading firms from Rio de Janeiro organized shipments of enslaved Africans to Brazil, when these were abolished in 1850 they concentrated on Cuba.5

Johann Moritz Rugendas, Newly enslaved Africans, Viagem Pitoresca Atravé do Brasil (1835) (Editora da Universidade de Sao Paulo, 1989). Source: Biblioteca Digital Curt Nimeundajú,

The illegal slave trade and the legitimate trading companies were connected. In theory, the trading companies strictly limited their activities to lawful barter trade. In reality, the clientele of Cuban and Brazilian middlemen provided the trading companies with cash payments. These slave smugglers bartered the purchased European goods for enslaved men, women and children from the African interior. 6 In the first year in Angola, Kerdijk & Pincoffs started trade with Portuguese slave dealers in Ponta da Lenha. 7

Christiano Junior, Enslaved African man, born in Cabinda (right) and enslaved African man, born in Angola (left), 1864, Rio de Janeiro. Collection Museu Historicó Nacional, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Source: Google Arts and Culture

Advertisements found in the database Delpher show the first shipment of Kerdijk & Pincoffs arrived in May 1858 in Rotterdam from Luanda, the administrative center of the Portuguese.8 Within a year of opening a factory in Ambriz, Kerdijk & Pincoffs followed British traders to nearby Kisembo, in order to avoid the high Portuguese custom dues in Ambriz.9

Advertisement for the auction in Rotterdam of goods from the first shipment of Kerdijk & Pincoffs from Luanda: dye, gum, wax and 246 elephant tusks. Nieuwe Rotterdamse Courant (May 5, 1858).

‘Free emigrants’

In 1860 Kerdijk & Pincoffs opened a factory in Banana, along the Loango coast of Congo. The factory was adjacent to the trading company of Victor and Louis Régis, from Marseille. In the early 1830s, Régis began trading in Senegal, and expanded southwards to Sierra Leone and Angola. In 1841 the French state granted the company permission to open a trading post in Dahomey at Whyda, in the ruins of a fort that had functioned as a depot for enslaved Africans. 10
Régis became pivotal in a scheme of the French government to procure human labour for the colonies in the Caribbean. In 1831 France ended the slave trade and signed a convention with the British against human trafficking. This convention expired in 1856, which opened the way for France to contract Régis to recruit and transport African labourers for Guadeloupe and Martinique. 11

Lt. Henry Hand, A French Free immgrant on his way to the barracoon of M. Regis.
Source: “Enslaved Africans Sold to French, 1858”, Slavery Images: A Visual Record of the African Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Early African Diaspora, accessed July 27, 2020.

Between 1857-1863 Régis purchased enslaved people from African authorities, declared them free and signed them to indentured labour contracts. The French ‘redeemed’ enslaved Africans mostly in Boma, one of the former centers of the Atlantic slave trade, but housed the so-called ‘free emigrants’ (émigrés libres) in newly built factories in Banana and Loango. In each factory up to fourteen hundred people could be housed.12 The French considered the redemptions as ‘an act of humanity’, yet the mortality on the early voyages was high. At the end of the scheme, Regís had carried around seventeen thousand people to the Caribbean colonies, their properties in Banana were sold to neighbouring Kerdijk & Pincoffs. 13

José Augusto da Cunha Moraes, Factory ‘Rotterdam’ at Banana, at the mound of the Congo-river, 1884. Collection Nederlands Fotomuseum, id.nr. WMR-902009.

With the settlement in Banana as the centre of the commercial activities, Kerdijk & Pincoffs expanded further in the Angolan region Cabinda. In 1868 Kerdijk & Pincofss became a limited company under the name of Afrikaansche Handelsvereeniging (African Trading Association – AHV). By 1871 the company had opened thirty-three factories in Angola and Congo, in 1877 this had risen to forty-four. 14 In 1879, after a financial scandal, the company continued as ‘Nieuwe Afrikaansche Handels Vennootschap’ and traded in Africa until 1982.

Further reading & listening

ca. 1870-1889 ‘Serviçais’

José Augusto da Cunha Moraes, Two Angolese men carrying a European man in a hammock, ca. 1870-1889, Collection Nederlands Fotomuseum. Rotterdam, id.nr. WMR-902002.

A studio portrait by José Augusto da Cunha Moraes in the collection of the Nederlands Fotomuseum (Dutch Photomuseum) shows two Angolese men carrying a European man in a hammock, locally known as a maxilla. Pictured in Angola at the end of the nineteenth century, the two men were in all probability unfree labourers, or so-called ‘servants’ (serviçais).

Drawing on an extensive range of sources, social historian Roquinaldo Ferreira showed that in seventeenth and eighteenth-century Luanda, the economy was entirely dependent on the enslaved population. They performed a wide array of activities, ranging from menial labour to specialized tasks as carpenter, sailor, blacksmith, and brickmaker. In Luanda, enslaved women and men could be rented out by their owners, or temporarily perform paid jobs. On the streets of Luanda, it was a common sight to see European settles being carried around in a hammock by a myriad of enslaved men.1

José Augusto da Cunha Moraes, European man in Luanda, Angola, ca. 1970-1915, Collection Rijkmuseum, id.nr. RP-F-W-1975.

Throughout the nineteenth century, consecutive legislative measures led to the Portuguese prohibition of the transatlantic slave trade in 1836 and culminated, in 1869, in the abolition of slavery in the Portuguese African territories. In the words of Angolan historian Maria da Conceição Neto, abolition in Angola was belated and ‘neither immediate nor complete’.2
The decree of 1869 determined that those with the legal status of ‘slaves’ (escravos) were to gain their freedom and become ‘libertos’ before April 1878. However, in 1875 Portuguese legislators annulled the status of libertos and supplanted this with the legal category of ‘servants’ (serviçais).3

Clarence-Smith explained the economic foundations of slavery remained unaltered in Angola until the second decade of the twentieth century. Firstly, every ‘servant’ (serviçal) had to sign a five-year contract with the slaveholder who ‘freed’ him. Although cash wage payments to serviçais were mandatory, the salaries were continuously reduced. Furthermore, it was not uncommon for slaveholders to solely pay in paper bonds, which could only be used in the stores they owned.
A second mechanism was formally illegal. At the end of the initial five-year contract, it was prolonged for another five years, mostly by means of intimidation and corruption. The colonial administration was heavily involved in the third mechanism: the ‘subcontracting’ of serviçais for financial compensation. This led to a continuation of the buying and selling of human beings as if they were commodities.4

Clarence-Smith insists slavery continued in an economic sense, whereas in a legal sense the status of ‘serviçal’ ensured fundamental rights to life and property.5 In the same vein, Conceição Neto acknowledges the effects of the era slave trade were prolonged through colonial policies, yet she insists historians should carefully distinguish between the different types of unfree labour.6

ca. 1870 ‘Angolenses’

The Rijksmuseum and The National Museum of World Cultures (Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen – NMvW) in The Netherlands together hold over more than two hundred photographs by José Augusto da Cunha Moraes (1855-1933) in their collection. His father opened a photography studio in São Paolo de Loanda (now: Luanda) in 1863, and J.A. da Cunha Moraes became a professional photographer in the 1870s. By the 1880s he had produced over four hundred photographs. According to historian Jill Dias (1944-2008), his individual portraits were exceptional, for they captured the social contrasts in the capital of colonial Angola.1

José Augusto da Cunha Moraes, View of Luanda (ca. 1876-1886), Collection Rijksmuseum, id.nr. RP-F-2001-7-683-1.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, inhabitants of the coastal town Loanda were divided into two categories: civilized and uncivilized.2 White Europeans constituted the elite of society, among them were landlords, traders and slave owners. 3 A minority were free Portuguese settlers, the majority came to Angola as convicts (degredados). Since early modern times Portugal had practiced degredo: the limiting or degrading of the legal status of convicts by means of forced exile.4 The exiles served a practical purpose: 97% of Portuguese migrants choose Brazil as their new home. The African colonies were no less important in the Portuguese self-perception as an imperial nation. Forced colonization provided the necessary manpower to make the overseas territories profitable. 5

José Augusto da Cunha Moraes, portrait of two women, one dressed in Angolan panos the other in a European dress, ca. 1870. Collection Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, id.nr. A274-56.

Since Portuguese settlers and degredados were almost exclusively male, they formed families with local women. Their mixed race descendants were included in the Loandan elite of ‘civilized peope’. 6 These Euro-Africans acquired positions in education, in the army, clergy and public offices of the colonial administration – although their main economic occupation remained trade, including slave trade. 7

José Augusto da Cunha Moraes, portrait of a Luso-African woman in Loanda belonging to the Gamboa family, ca. 1880, Collection Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, id.nr. RV-A45-52.

Dias stated Da Cunha Moraes preserved the image of this elite, 8 but didn’t include any examples. Hitherto I haven’t been able to find other secondary literature on this subject that provides photographs from the end of the nineteenth century. Unfortunately somewhat speculative, I wonder whether some of the photographs in the collection of the NMvW are portraits of women belonging to the Luso-African elite. In some of the captions of the NMvW it is explicitly mentioned the women are of mixed descent. One description (RV-A45-52) contains the family name of the sitter: Gamboa.

Experts emphasize that the Loandan elite of the nineteenth century was culturally and racially mixed.9 The category of the ‘civilized’ included Africans of different ethnic groups, who were educated, Christian, cosmopolitan, possessed assets, capital and dressed in a European manner. It might not be impossible that Da Cunha Moraes portrayed African families of the Europeanized elite of his city, who designated themselves as ‘filhos da terra‘, ‘filhos do país‘, (sons of the country) or ‘Angolenses‘.

José Augusto da Cunha Moraes, Portrait of a couple from Loanda, ca. 1870. The woman is wearing Angolese panos, the man is dressed in a European suit and shoes. The appropriate object on the table in the studio was a boat. Collection Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, id.nr. RVA274-67.

Around the turn of the century, social relations in Angola transformed, leading to the subordination of the ‘filhos da terra’. Portuguese planters and administrators who failed to achieve economic and social development ascribed this to the ‘inherent barbarism’ of Africans. In their perspective, modernizing Angola equaled increasing the white population. As a consequence, the white population of Angola tripled between 1900-1930. Furthermore, a new, racially differentiated wage system was established, along with a limit for the number of Africans that could be employed in the civil service. Hence, being white became a prerequisite for positions of authority in the colonial administration. 10. By 1920 the Euro-African elite had been excluded from the administration of the colony and public life. 11

José Augusto da Cunha Moraes, Portrait of a mother and daughter, ca. 1870. The girl is holding a missal in her hand and wearing shoes, an important marker of ‘civilization’. Collection Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, id.nr. RVA274-64.

1858-1949 Monument Cawnpore

De collectie van het Rijksmuseum omvat een drietal foto’s van Samuel Bourne waarop een rivieroever en een gedenkteken centraal lijken te staan. Bourne maakte de foto’s in 1865 om plaatsen van herinnering in Cawnpore (nu: Kanupur) vast te leggen. Hier werden in de beginfase van Indiase Opstand (1857-1858) gewelddadig Britse mannen, vrouwen en kinderen gedood.

Soldaat uit de East India Company Bengal Army. De Indiase soldaten stonden bekend als sipahi, door de Britten sepoy genoemd. Collectie Rijksmuseum, inv.nr. NG-2010-48.

De Indiase Opstand (1857-1858)was gericht tegen het gezag van de Britse East India Company (EIC). Tegen 1850 opereerde de EIC niet langer als een handelscompagnie, maar richtte het zich volledig op het civiel en militair bestuur van India.1 De opstand begon in mei 1857 in het kantonnement Meerut (in Noord-India) en werd bijna een jaar later neergeslagen; na de overkomst van 35,000 manschappen uit Groot-Brittannië. 2
In de geschiedschrijving is de Opstand tot in de twintigste eeuw aangeduid als de ‘sepoy muiterij’. Het leger van de EIC leunde vanaf de achttiende eeuw sterk op Indiase sipahi (soldaten) in hun oorlogsvoering tegen de Fransen en Indiase vorsten.3 De muiterij in Meerut zou zij voortgekomen uit de weerzin van zowel Hindoeïstische als Islamitische soldaten in het Bengaals leger van de EIC tegen het gebruik van dierlijk vet voor de kogels van de nieuw ingevoerde Enfield geweren. 4

Historicus Biswamoy Pati (1956-2017) kenschetste in zijn inleiding op een bundel over de Indiase Opstand, het centraal stellen van de muiterij van de sepoys, als een ‘typisch koloniaal perspectief.’ 5 De voorstelling dat één groep in opstand kwam en dit beperkt bleef tot Noord-India, was immers gunstig voor de koloniale machthebber. Roy haalde in zijn introductie studies aan waaruit bleek dat brede lagen van de bevolking in 1857 in verzet kwamen; van grootgrondbezitters die zich keerden tegen belastinghervormingen tot landbouwers en adivasi (inheemse gemeenschappen). Daarbij strekten opstanden van uiteenlopende groepen zich uit over geheel India, tot in het uiterste zuiden. Bovendien was de uitbarsting in 1857 een voortzetting van hevig verzet sinds de eerste helft van de negentiende eeuw tegen de toenemende macht van de East India Company.6
Pati noemde als element van het koloniaal perspectief de nadruk op de ‘barbaarse aard’ van de opstandelingen. 7 Dit aspect trad op de voorgrond in de herinneringspolitiek rondom de gebeurtenissen in Cawnpore.

Samuel Bourne, De Satti Chaura Ghat, Cawnpore. Oever van de rivier Ganges waar Britse mannen werden gedood. (1865). Collectie Rijksmuseum, inv.nr. RP-F-F80455


Een van de noordelijke steden waar de bevolking en soldaten in opstand kwamen was Cawnpore. Indiase handelaren en geldschieters die gefortuneerd waren door zaken te doen met de Britten, werden tot doelwit. Britse burgers en militairen zochten in juni 1857 hun toevlucht in versterkte barakken aan de zuidelijke rand van de stand. Na drie weken van beschietingen garandeerde de lokale leider van de Opstand, Nana Sahib, de groep een veilige overtocht met vier boten over de rivier Ganges. Echter, op het moment dat de Britten bij de rivieroever Satti Chaura Ghat aan boord gingen, werden zij door de opstandelingen onder vuur genomen. Mannen die dit overleefden werden alsnog in de rivier, of later aan land, ter door gebracht.
De vrouwen en kinderen werden naar een afgelegen villa in Cawnpore gebracht. Rebellerende soldaten weigerden hen te doden. Deze daad werd verricht door ingehuurde slagers, die de meer dan tweehonderd lichamen achterlieten in een waterput.8
In zijn beschrijving van de gebeurtenissen merkt Mukherjee op dat geweld een ‘essentieel component was van de Britse aanwezigheid in India.’ De Opstand doorbrak het geweldsmonopolie van de Britten, met gewelddadigheden van Indiërs die tot dan toe ongekend waren. 9


Samuel Bourne, beeld van de Angel of Resurrection, gebouwd op de waterput met de lichamen van tweehonderd gedode vrouwen, afgeschermd door een muur in gotische stijl (1865). Collectie Rijksmuseum, inv.nr. RP-F-F80449.

In 1858, de opstand was nog in volle gang, werd het beeld van de ‘Engel der wederopstanding’ geplaatst, in 1863 werd het ommuurd door een achthoekig bouwwerk in gotische stijl. Vrijwel direct na de opening van het park werd het een vast onderdeel in de rondreis van hoogwaardigheidsbekleders én Britse toeristen. In 1875, toen de Prins van Wales Cawnpore het monument aandeed, trok het monument dagelijks bezoekers; tot het begin van de twintigse eeuw meer dan de Taj Mahal.
Auteur Heathorn schrijft dat de Indiase Opstand de symbolische afstand tussen de Britten en de Indiërs vergrootte: de moorden in Cawnpore zouden hun gedegeneerde, wilde en barbaarse aard tonen. De ‘Engel der opstanding’ fungeerde niet louter als gedenkplaats voor de onschuldige vrouwen en kinderen die het leven lieten; het was evenzeer een waarschuwing voor het alomtegenwoordige gevaar van een nieuwe rebellie.
Aanvankelijk diende dit ter rechtvaardiging van represailles gedurende de opstand 10 , zoals het in brand steken van dorpen in de nabije omgeving van Cawnpore waarbij de bewoners omkwamen. In juni 1857 werd krijgswetgeving aangenomen waardoor het leger burgers kon berechten. In de praktijk leidde dit tot ophanging op grote schaal van mannen die verdacht werden van muiterij. 11
Ideeën over het niet aflatend Indiase gevaar werden gereproduceerd door de toeristische ‘pelgrimage’ langs alle steden waar de Britten grote verliezen leden in de Opstand, de reisverslagen en historische werken én foto’s van commerciële fotografen als Bourne. Circulerende beelden van het park in Cawnpore vervulden zodoende een belangrijke rol in de Britse herinneringspolitiek. 12

Zijaanzicht van de engel, foto op frontispice van het werk, Indian Reminiscences van Colonel Samuel Dewé White, van 1845-1870 in het Bengaals leger. Collectie Rijksmuseum, inv.nr. RP-F-2001-7-422-1.


De aanleg van het park en de gedenkplaats met de engel werden bekostigd met de opbrengsten van een speciale belasting (circa 30,000 pond) die de gehele bevolking van Cawnpore was opgelegd, als collectieve straf voor het uitblijven van verzet tegen de opstandelingen. Indiërs dienden een speciale vergunning aan te vragen om het park te mogen betreden. Deze werd hoogst zelden verleend en ook dan bleef het voor hen verboden om het bouwwerk met de engel te betreden. 13

Samuel Bourne, herinneringspark Cawnpore met de gotische muur op de achtergrond (1865). Collectie Rijksmuseum, inv.nr. RP-F-F00615.

Gezien het toegangsverbod voor Indiërs mag het opmerkelijk heten dat Bourne op bovenstaande foto drie Indiase mannen in het park liet poseren. Wilcock vermoedt dat Bourne drie dagers voor de camera plaatste, op gepaste afstand van het monument. In zijn analyse van de foto stelt Wilcock dat de drie mannen niet vastgelegd zijn als individuen, maar als belichaming van de native ofwel ‘inlander’. Wilcock ziet een ambivalentie in de foto: van de mannen gaat niet de geringste dreiging uit. Hij hanteert de term stoffage, afkomstig uit de schilderkunst, om de positie van de Indiërs te omschrijven. De drie mannen geven een indruk van de schaal van het monument en verlevendigen het geheel. De staande houding van de man in het midden harmonieert met de slanke bomen die ordelijk in het park geplant zijn, de zittende mannen weerspiegelen elkaars houding. Het beeld van ‘potentiële rebellen’ werd hier verdrongen door Britse opvattingen over de passieve, ‘indolente Indiërs.’ 14

1854 – 1880 ‘Nautch girl’

Several museums hold photographs in their collection that combine elements that figured prominently in the British colonial imagination of India: Kashmir and dancing women.

Lalla Rookh

When Irish poet Thomas Moore published his ‘Oriental Romance’ Lalla Rookh in 1817, it became an instant bestseller. Moore’s main character was the fictional daughter of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb (1618-1707), her name translates as ‘tulip cheek’. She travels from the imperial court in Delhi to Kashmir, for her marriage to a young prince in the garden Shalimar (‘the abode of love’). Moore evoked an image of an idyllic Kashmir, with a scenery of otherworldly beauty.

The author never set foot in Kashmir. His ‘romance’ was based on an extensive library of travelogues, pictorial sources and scholarly treatises on India, Persia and Central-Asia. Nevertheless, Lalla Rookh moulded perceptions of later artists that visited India. In 1846 the East India Company (EIC) created the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir and sold the territory to ruler Gulab Singh. 1 As a princely state the area became accessible for travellers like the watercolourist William Carpenter (1818-1899). He travelled through India from 1850-1857 and made a series of paintings in Kashmir in the years 1854-1855. Using Lalla Rookh as a travel guide, he visited the landmarks in the city of Srinagar that Moore had extolled four decades earlier.2

William Carpenter, Two Natch girls, Kashmir (1854), Victoria and Albert Museum, item nr. S.157-1882

‘Two Natch girls’ of Carpenter contains elements that enabled the spectator to relate it to Kashmir. The two women are wearing white Kashmiri gowns, known as pheran. Usually, a lighter gown (poots), is worn underneath the pheran but Carpenter has omitted this, allowing to show more bare skin. One woman smokes a hookah, the other dreamily looks sideways. The flower in her hand could be a blooming tulip, as a reference to Lalla Rookh. Both women are framed within Mughal architecture: on one side the baluster column, on the other the stone window (jarokha), with a grand view of the mountainous landscape.


‘Natch’, which Carpenter used in the title, and ‘nautch’ were Anglicised forms of the Hindi word naach¸ a neutral word for dance. Today, nautch is considered a problematic term. Barlas showed that women with widely diverse occupations and skills were called ‘nautch girl’. This encompassed highly trained poets, singers, and dancers who were attached to courts and temples, as well as women who earned a living as entertainers or prostitutes. Thus nautch was a false or even illusory category. 3 Nonetheless, some photographs in different collections seem to contain traces of a distinct art form that was subsumed in the category of nautch.

Samuel Bourne (1834–1912) is considered one of the most important photographers of colonial India, working in the second half of the nineteenth century. The majority of his work consists of landscapes and architectural splendours, while his images of Indian people are less numerous. 4 In 1863 he established the firm Bourne & Shepherd, by 1866 the catalogue included 600 different photographs, about a third of Kashmir. 5

Samuel Bourne, Natch girls of Srinugger, Cashmere (1860s), British Library, item.nr. 39416.

Bourne commented on his portrait of a group of ‘natch girls’:
[…]They were very shy at making their appearance in daylight, as, like the owl, they are birds of the night. […]They squatted themselves down on the carpet which had been provided for them, and absolutely refused to move an inch for any purpose of posing; so after trying in vain to get them into something like order, I was obliged to take them as they were, the picture, of course, being far from a good one. […] 6

left: Bourne & Shepherd, Kashmeer – A Natch (1864), Victoria and Albert Museum, id. nr. IS.7:50-1998. Two dancers in a semi-circle, one in a pose with her skirt, surrounded by musicians and spectators.

right: John Burke, Kashmir Dancers, Ethnologisches Museum der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz,id.nr. VIII C 600 b. One dancer holding her skirt, on the right a musician with a saaz-e-kashmir.

Although Bourne complained about the women’s unwillingness to pose, another photograph in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum shows a lively image. A group of men is sitting on a carpet, in their midst musicians; the rectangular santoor, the Kashmiri zither, is clearly discernable. Some spectators have turned their faces to the photographer, but the focus is on the two standing women in the middle of the semi-circle. The woman on the left holds the hem of her transparent skirt in her hand, creating movement while standing still. The group is surrounded by lush trees, it seems very likely Bourne made the photograph in a pavilion (baradari) of Shalimar Bagh in Srinagar, the garden of love where the fictional Lalla Rookh married.

Samuel Bourne, Natch House, Shalimar gardens, Srinugger (1860s) British Library, id. nr. 39419.

One of the competitors of Bourne’s firm was Baker & Burke. Like Bourne, founder John Burke took more than a hundred photographs in and around Srinagar. 7 In Burke’s group portrait five musicians are playing their instruments. On the left, a player of the santoor is sitting in front, next to him a man holds a sehtâr, a Kashmiri lute. On the right, behind the musician on the santoor, two men hold a saaz-e-kashmir, a local version of the viol.

Dancers and musicians, Baker and Burke, Ethnologisches Museum der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz, id. nr. VIII C 1822

The combinations of these instruments strongly suggest this is an ensemble of Sufiana Kalam, considered by Kashmiris as their classical music. 8 Sufiana Kalam was performed in religious as well as secular gatherings (mehfil), where musicians sang the mystical poems of Persian Sufis. The music ensemble accompanied Hafiza Nagma, professional dancers who sang in Persian and Kashmiri and conveyed the meaning of the words through bodily movements, facial expressions, and hand gestures.9

Portraits by Bourne and Burke show that they were not concerned with the intricacies of a performing art. Instead, the commercial success of their works depended on exoticizing the ‘nautch girls’. Barlas argues this was achieved by the physical depiction of the women.10 In the painting as well as the photographs the white pheran, emphasize femininity (as perceived at that time). Carpenter paid much attention to the elaborate hair jewellery (matha patti), 11 and their nathni (nose ring) seems to glisten.

left: Dancers and musicians from Kashmir, John Burke, Ethnologisches Museum der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz, id. nr. VIII C 1770. The musician in front plays the santur, behind him a man is holding a saaz-e-kashmir.

right: Francis Frith (Studio Frith´s Series, A Cashmerian Nautch girl, (ca. 1887), Rijksmuseum, id.nr. RP-F-F80347.

Another trope of exoticization is the woman who is performing in a public or private space. 12 To communicate the ‘nautch girl’ was actually dancing, photographers Bourne and Burke used the pose of a woman holding the hem of her skirt in her hand. Burke chose the pose of one hand at the back of the head. Photographers of the successful commercial company of Francis Frith repeated this same pose more than ten years later. 13

John Burke, Asisi, 22 years old, Kashmir Dancing girl, Ethnologisches Museum der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz

Objects, probably available in the photo studio, enforced the meaning of women reclining or lounging. In Burke’s group portrait of the ensemble, two women are smoking a hookah and within reach are two samovars, a Kashmiri speciality to boil, brew and serve tea. In the photograph of Asisi the samovar stands on a tray with teacups, an echo of the painting of Carpenter. Asisi has freed her feet from her shoes (khussa), and leans against a bolster (gao takia).

In combination with the reclining pose, the photograph suggests spectators are offered a view in the private quarters of the women, in India known as zenana.  This suggestion is even stronger when several women are in the picture.

left: Francis Frith, Nautch Girl Cashmere (1850-1870), Ethnologisches Museum der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz, id.nr. VIII C 1776.

right: John Burke, Kashmir dancers, Ethnologisches Museum der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz, id.nr. VIII C 600 a

Bourne, as well as Firth, made a composition with a woman seemingly alone in a room. She is reclining in a half-lying position, one side of the body supported by the bolster. She evokes sensuality and pleasure while transgressing Victorian morality. This perception would determine the fate of the dancers, singers and artists in the whole of India after 1890. Performing Hafiz Nagma was prohibited by the Kashmiri ruler in the early 1920s, the tradition is now all but lost.

left: Samuel Bourne, Cashmere Nautch Girl (1860s) British Library, id. nr. 70

right: Francis Firth (1850-1870),A Cashmerian Nautch Girl, Rijksmuseum, id.nr. RP-F-F80348


N.V. Eerste Nederlandse Witmetaalfabriek te Loosduinen, bronzen beeld, ca 1926 – 1969 . Twee rokende mannen met een verentooi en rok van tabaksbladeren, leunend tegen een vat dat gevuld is met tabaksbladeren . Collectie Liemers Museum, inv.nr. 07014-00.

Vanaf 1613 begonnen experimenten met de verbouw van tabak in Virginia, sinds 1607 de eerste Engelse kolonie in Noord-Amerika. Een luttele vijf jaar later werd er meer dan achttienduizend kilo tabak naar Engeland uitgevoerd.1 De teelt was uiterst bewerkelijk en vanaf 1618 werd dit bewerkstelligd door onvrije arbeid, aanvankelijk door mannen uit Engeland. Vanaf halverwege de zeventiende eeuw zagen landbouwers uit Wales en Engeland zich door het mislukken van oogsten genoodzaakt een contract aan te gaan dat hen verplichtte vier tot zeven jaar op de tabaksvelden te werken.2

Johannes van Oye, Tabaksvignet van papier, c. 1730-1760. Links een staande koopman. Een Afrikaanse vrouw biedt hem een bos tabaksbladeren aan. Voor haar zit een inheemse Amerikaan met pijp op een half geopende tabaksmand. Collectie Amsterdam Pipe Museum, inv.nr. APM 25.002

Van groter belang was de slavenarbeid. Engelse kolonisten kwamen in het bezit van inheemse Amerikanen door hen te ruilen tegen wapens. Deze ruilhandel werd bedreven met inheemse bevolkingsgroepen die zich bewapenden, mede om te voorkomen dat zij zelf tot slaaf gemaakt werden. Zodoende bereikten de Richahecrian en de rivaliserende Occaneechi een dominante positie die hen in staat stelden andere inheemse groeperingen te onderwerpen en verhandelen.3 Hoewel de prijzen fluctueerden, bleef de productie van tabak toenemen – wat mogelijk was door de trans-Atlantische slavenhandel. In de periode 1698-1774 werden naar schatting 80.000 tot 100.000 mensen uit Centraal- en West Afrika naar Virginia verscheept. 4

Links: houten beeld (1775). Jongen die een pijp rookt, draagt hoofdversiering van rood, wit en zwarte veren en een lendendoek. In zijn rechterhand heeft hij een bos tabaksbladeren, zijn linkerhand rust op een tabaksrol. 1775, Collectie Ottema-Kingma Stichting, inv.nr. NO 14562.

Rechts: Houten beeld, ca 1750 -1799. Donkere man gekleed in een witte tuniek en een geplooide roodgele rok. Hij draagt een tulband, halsdoek, met metaal beklede schoenen en opgerolde sokken. De linkerhand rust op een tabaksrol. Collectie Ottema-Kingma Stichting, inv.nr. NO 14561.

Tegen deze achtergrond zou het houten beeld uit de collectie van de Ottema-Kingma Stichting kunnen worden bekeken. In 1605 opende de eerste tabakswinkel in Londen, herkenbaar aan de uithangborden. Molineux liet in een uitgebreide studie van Britse vignetten en advertenties zien dat een hybride figuur ontstond, de black virginian waarin Turkse, Afrikaanse en inheems Amerikaanse elementen werden samengebracht. 5

Gravure (1617). Collectie British Museum, inv.nr. Gg,4U.13. Links de toonbank met daarop de rokende virginian.

De eerste afbeelding van een black virginian is te zien in het boek ‘The smoaking age or the life and death of tobacco‘ (1617). Het frontispice is een weergave van het interieur van een tabakswinkel. Op de toonbank is een kleine, donkere figuur te zien; hij rookt een pijp, houdt een tabaksrol onder zijn linkerarm en aan zijn voeten liggen kleipijpen. In Engelse havensteden waren houtsnijders die zich specialiseerden in het vervaardigden van boegbeelden en sierlijk bewerkte achterstevens. De houten virginians in tabakswinkels, koffiehuizen en tavernes zijn mogelijk van hun hand afkomstig. 6 Gedurende de zeventiende eeuw verspreidde de figuur zich in het Engelse straatbeeld: eigenaren van tabakswinkels lieten visitekaartjes, kwitanties en verpakkingsmateriaal ontwerpen waarop de virginian te zien was 7 Vanaf de achttiende eeuw werd de figuur ook afgebeeld op tabakszakjes, vignetten en advertenties in Nederland. 8

Papieren sigarenzakje ‘De Wilde man’,ca.1884 – 1890. Links een donkere man met verentooi en rok van tabaksbladeren, op de rug een pijlenkoker, gewapend met knots en lans. Collectie Amsterdam Pipe Museum, inv.nr. APM 26.018b

ca. 1940-1950 Museu do Dondo

“Museu de Angola 5 aspecto de secçao de Etnografia”.Au centre: “Ediçao do museu de Angola – Luanda”. “Leonar”, collectie Musée du Quai Branly, inv.nr. PP0230365 .

Bovenstaande kaart is afkomstig uit de collectie van het Musée du Quai Branly te Parijs. Op de foto is een deel van een museumzaal te zien met ceremoniële voorwerpen van de bevolkingsgroep Chokwe, uit de regio Lunda in het noord-westen van Angola. Een prominente plaats is weggelegd voor ceremoniële stoelen (ngundja), bestemd voor leiders van de Chokwe. In Nederland is een dergelijke stoel opgenomen in de collectie van het Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen 1 en ook diverse Amerikaanse musea hebben de ngundja in hun collectie
uitgebreid omschreven. 2

De foto uit de collectie van het Musée de Quai Branly geeft echter geen museumzaal in Europa of de Verenigde Staten weer, maar het Museu do Dondo in Angola – tot 1975 een Portugese kolonie. Het museum werd in 1936 opgericht door de Companhia de Diamantes de Angola (Diamang, 1917-1975), een consortium van investeerders uit Portugal, België, Frankrijk en de Verenigde Staten. 3

Belangrijk in de beginjaren van de instelling was José Redinha (1905-1983). Hij maakte in de periode 1936-1946 diverse verzamelreizen om voorwerpen van de Lund en Chokwe bijeen te brengen. Tot zijn betrokkenheid bij het museum was Ledenha werzaam bij de posterij van het Portugese koloniale bestuur. Redinha werd in 1942 benoemd tot conservator van het Museu do Dondo, drie jaar later begon hij aan een studie etnografie in Lissabon. 4

Bij het museum hoorde een ‘village indigène’ (letterlijk: inheems dorp), een formule die sinds het einde van de negentiende eeuw groot succes oogstte op wereldtentoonstellingen. Dit dorp zou het traditionele leven van de Chokwe weergeven, met op de voorgrond een mannenhuis. Collectie Musée du Quai Branly, inv.nr. PP0075605.

Het Museu do Dondo in Angola is slechts één van de musea die in Afrikaanse koloniën als Zuid-Afrika en Senegal werden opgericht. Zowel de architectuur van de gebouwen als de wijze van presentatie waren gebaseerd op Westerse modellen en ideeën. Evenals de volkenkundige musea in Europa weerspiegelde het Museu do Dondo weerspiegelde de relatie tussen kolonisator en kolonie. De keuze van de objecten en de opstelling hiervan werd bepaald door Europeanen – hoewel het museum op Angolese grond stond. Daarnaast wijst het feit dat de instelling werd opgericht door een diamantonderneming die behoefte had aan kennis had aan de lokale bevolkingsgroepen, op de nauwe relatie tussen koloniale politiek en economie en de doelstelling van het museum. 5