Queen Nzinga and a Drummer, Kingdom of Matamba (Angola), early 1660s


Ezio Bassani, ed., Un Cappuccino nell'Africa nera del seicento: I disegni dei Manoscritti Araldi del Padre Giovanni Antonio Cavazzi da Montecuccolo [A Capuchin in Black Africa in the Seventeenth Century: Drawings of the Araldi Manuscript of Father Giovanni Antonio Cavazzi da Montecuccolo] (Milan: Quaderni Poro, no. 4, 1987), plate 10.


Caption (translated): Queen Nzinga seated among her maidservants watches a drummer; a small structure (a shrine?) in the background has a mat in front of it on which is a ceremonial seat. The Queen is smoking an African elbow pipe. Antonio Cavazzi (b. 1621) was an Italian priest who from 1654 to 1667 joined the Capuchin mission in what is today northern Angola; after a visit to Europe, he returned to the Kingdom of Kongo, where he remained from 1672 to 1677. He died in Genoa in 1678. Cavazzi made this and other watercolors, the originals of which are in his manuscript, held in a private collection in Modena, Italy (see also Cavazzi for other images on this website). Bassani reproduces the full set of 33 watercolors, only 8 of which are reproduced on this site. A microfilm copy of the manuscript is held by the Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library. Cavazzi's drawings must be among the earliest known eyewitness sketches of African life by a European; they can be contrasted to, for example, the fanciful depictions found in Dapper or by the De Bry brothers (see Dapper and De Bry on this website). Thanks to Joseph Miller for his assistance in interpreting this image.


Cavazzi, Antonio

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