Mangbetu Palace

Mangbetu Palace were wood constructed palaces for the kings of Mangbetu in present day Evolution of the Negro home; D... Digital ID: 1219110. New York Public Library
Democratic Republic of Congo. They were some of the largest wood architectural implementation in the world on par in size with the Japanese wood temples. George Schweinfurth who visited the Mangbetu court of Munza, provides detail description of the palace. The palace of Munza contained two halls, made of wood. The halls had a rectangular shape. One hall was 35 feet high, 80 feet wide, and 200 feet in length. Another hall was 50 feet high, 50 feet wide, and 150 feet in length. The roofs were vaulted and supported by three long rows of pillars, in addition to other countless rafters and spars. Furthermore, the roof was pitched, sloping downward, near the ground. The sides were enclosed by a low parapet. The space between the low parapet and sloping roof allowed light and air inside. The floor was smooth with dark red plaster. Wood was processed from the stem of palm wine trees(uncaria).

Although Schweinfurth only stayed among the Mangbetu for three weeks, did not understand the language, and gives dubious social ethnological information, including the claim of cannibalism, he was taken by these palaces and wrote, "Considering the part of Africa in which these halls were found, one might be truly justified in calling them wonders of the world. I hardly know, with all our building resources, what material we could have employed, except it were whalebone, of sufficient lightness and duration to erect structures like these royal halls of Munza, capable of withstanding the tropical storms and hurricanes."

Works Cited

Ehret, Christopher (2002).The Civilizations of Africa. Charlottesville: University of Virginia, ISBN 0-8139-2085-X.

Schweinfurth, Georg August and  Frewer, Ellen Elizabeth(1878). The heart of Africa: three years' travels and adventures in the unexplored regions of Central Africa from 1868 to 1871, Volume 2. S. Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington, pp. 61-64.

Vaughan, Robert and Allon, Henry(1874).  The British quarterly review, Volume 59. Indiana University, p. 534.