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Photographs, Manuscripts & Archives

Vintage and found photographs and albums, manuscripts, and archives.

[Glass Stereoviews of Rural Portuguese Angola].

[Glass Stereoviews of Rural Portuguese Angola].


[Various, including Cuanhama, Angola]: [ca. 1908-1909]. [Photography] : [Africana]. 42 glass positive stereoviews. Each approximately 4 1/2" x 1 3/4." Negative space between images with manuscript notations in Portuguese. Most with at least some degree of mild to moderate wear presumably from handling and/or storage. Several with small chips from corners. Overall very good.

A small archive of scarce, early 20th century glass stereoview images of Western Africa, most centered around the rural, inland communities of Cuanhama and Cuamato, in Cuene Province, Angola, and with 4 excellent views of coastal Cote d'Ivoire. Creator unknown. Slides are housed in Lumiere Co. boxes, suggesting French origin, and the captions are in Portuguese.

Images frequently show rural Catholic churches, making this most likely a mission trip, and likely portray either the Ovambo, Nyaneka-Nkhumbi, or possibly Herero tribes, given location. Includes many clear portraits of the tribal populations in traditional dress.

Notably, there is one very uncomfortable image of a woman lying on the ground captioned "[Mulher fuzilada por feiticaria, Cuanhama!!]", which loosely translated from the Portuguese means: "Woman shot for witchcraft." The relationship between the Portuguese missionaries and tribal spirital healers/sorcerers or "Nganga" was not necessarily an adversarial one. A traveling missionary's accounts of Portuguese Angola contemporary with the trip portrayed in these sides mentions the voodoo-like rituals and practices of the Nganga, as well as the fact that these rituals were often documented and archived by the local missionaries. However, the rift between Christianity and the traditional beliefs in witches, spirits, and magic is both powerful and longlasting, as was seen in 2005 when a number of Angolan children were tortured and killed under suspicion of witchcraft.

On the whole, these slides are a fragile and uncommon surviving photographic format, and are an evocative visual record of Africana, focused firmly on a singular rural area of a country then on the cusp of massive development by the Portuguese, which would ultimately lead to the Angolan War of Independence, the Carnation Revolution, and finally independence from Portugal in 1975

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