Angolan ‘white gold’ returns to its origin after several years in Spain

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Several historical materials carved from ivory which is considered the ‘white gold’ of Angola have been returned to Angola from Spain.

The artefacts which include decorative and ritual pieces, personal adornments and musical instruments were collected by a Portuguese missionary who lived in the Cabinda Province, formerly called Portuguese Congo, and taken along with him on his return to Portugal.

The objects ended up in Spain where he died during a mission, leaving the objects to Spanish mothers who have since contacted Angolan authorities, according to the Director of National Archives of Angola, Constança Ceita.

The items are currently being displayed at the National Archives of Angola at an exhibition dubbed “The Return of Ivory: towards a Policy of Recovery of Works of Art in Angola”.

The exhibition which will last till January 17 will showcase other objects from the 19th and 20th centuries that reveal part of Portuguese history to Angolans, portraying, for example, the life cycles of populations.

“To this day, they are used by populations, not only as objects of adornment or furniture but fundamentally in the context of African and Angolan cosmogony. It is extremely important because we have to provide society with knowledge of its assets, its culture,” Cieta was quoted by local media Folha 8.

The exhibition consists essentially of objects that belong to large ethnolinguistic groups in the northern and northwestern regions of Angola, namely Ngoyo, Vili, Cacongo, and Yombe.

These items are said to have originated from the ancient states of Luhango.

Among these, pieces such as the Ngudi stand out, a type of trumpet used in enthronement rituals and puberty ceremonies, among others.

Others display carved into elephant tusks, elements of daily life, Angolan fauna, and flora, acts of veneration and worship of ancestors, interconnecting the sacred and the profane of the cosmogony of the Bantu, a vast African ethnolinguistic group from which many Angolan ethnicities originate.

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