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Journeys of Faith: Artifacts from the Mission Field

Rev. William Henry Sheppard (1865-1927) served as a Presbyterian missionary to the Congo from 1890 to 1910. During those 20 years, he collected many artifacts made by the native Congolese which he shipped back to the United States. Most notably, as one of the first westerners to visit the Kuba Kingdom, Sheppard was instrumental in introducing the wider world to the art of the Kuba.

William Sheppard with Chief Maxamalinge, son of Lukenga, King of the Bakuba. View image record on Pearl. [Image ID: 2334]

Zappo Zap ceremonial copper ax from William Sheppard's collection. The slave trading Zappo Zaps were a group of Songye people from the eastern Kasai region of the Congo.

Zappo Zap ceremonial copper ax.

I asked the people to explain why their dogs didn’t bark. So they told me that once they did bark, but long ago the dogs and leopards had a big fight, the dogs whipped the leopards, and after that the leopards were very mad, so the mothers of the little dogs told them not to bark any more, and they hadn’t barked since. The natives tie wooden bells around their dogs to know where they are. Every man knows the sound of his bell just as we know the bark of our dog. (Original caption attached to the dog bell, Sheppard collection).

Dog bell.

Half-moon-shaped Bakuba wedding box.

Half-moon-shaped Bakuba wedding box, collected by Dr. Eugene R. Kellersberger (1888-1966) who served as a Presbyterian missionary in the Congo from 1916 to 1940. His work included pioneering research in the treatment of African sleeping sickness.