burning "idol house" in Sogno, Kingdom of Kongo, in the 1740s.
|From Paola Collo and
Silvia Benso (eds.), Sogno: Bamba, Pemba, Ovando e altre contrade dei regni
di Congo, Angola e adjacenti (Milan: published privately by Franco Maria
Ricci, 1986), p. 163.
putting torch to "fetish house"; some villagers are observing,
others are fleeing. Some of the objects used by a magician, e.g., snakes,
goat heads, claws, are shown in foreground. "Catholic priests,"
writes James Sweet, "had little tolerance for African rituals and
practices. Across Central Africa, priests burned 'idol houses' and 'fetish
objects' in grand public displays meant to demonstrate the impotence of
African spirits and religious leaders" (Recreating Africa [University of
North Carolina Press, 2003], p. 110). This source in Italian is a modern
printing of a 1747 manuscript (located in the Biblioteca Civica of Turin)
which describes Capuchin expeditions to the Kingdom of Kongo. The watercolor
paintings record moments in the daily lives of missionaries Bernardino
Ignazio and Gaspare da Bassano, who were resident in Sogno from 1743-1747.
Sogno (Sonyo in English) was a province of the kingdom. The illustrations and
accompanying manuscript were done by Ignazio.