33 Congolese Trumpet

33 • A Congolese Trumpet

Democratic Republic of the Congo, 19th century
46 cm long; antelope horn, brass binding and studs

Tribal chiefs of the African interior retained huge orchestras of trumpets to play music in honour of their leader, a symbol of his power and the command he had over his kingdom. This example – a side-blown antelope horn – is decorated with brass studs, a sign of great prestige and also confirmation that it was an instrument used at the royal court. It was once part of the collection belonging to the Baptist Missionary Society, which was founded in Northamptonshire in 1792 and landed in the Congo in 1878, presenting their credentials to the king in São Salvador, where they established their first Baptist mission station. A label with the number ‘538’ is likely to have been an inventory number from the society’s collection. The trumpet has an exceptionally smooth, glossy patina.

33 Congolese Trumpet