Anthropological images from the Belgian Congo, ca. 1900


Spotted on the tumblog of photographer Clayton Cubitt, a collection of more than 700 black and white photographs taken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the early 20th century.

Clayton says, "Click on this archive link, and then click to submit on the search button at the archive site without entering any search terms, and it should return 73 pages of amazing."

There are so many powerful portraits in this collection, like the one above.
I've been reading a lot about the current, ongoing violence in the Congo (here is one recent story about sexual atrocities committed against men). Clicking through this archive, I found myself thinking about the legacy of violence and colonialism, and how one generation of brutalities begets another. There are many images here that document horrible acts committed more than a century ago, such as the cutting off of hands of rubber plantation workers who failed to meet their quotas, or whipping people to death with hippo-skin chicottes.

Image at the top of this post: Herbert Lang, 'SENSE, A MANGBETU CHIEF. PORTRAIT 3/4 VIEW. PLASTER CAST OF FACE TAKEN' Belgian Congo 1909-1915.