Notes on the Folklore of the Fjort (French Congo). Illustrated. With an Introduction by Mary H.Kingsley.
London, David Nutt, 1898. 15 cm x 22.5 cm. Frontispiece, XXXII, 169 pages. 5 full-page-photographic illustrations. Hardcover [publisher’s original tanned cloth] with gilt lettering on spine. Gilt stamp on front board and decorative tooling to boards. Excellent condition with only minor signs of external wear. Deckled edges. Interior bright and clean. [Publications of the Folk-Lore Society – Volume XLI – 1897]
Includes, for example, the following: Introduction by Miss Kingsley / How the Nsassi (Gazelle) got Married / A Bakutu who came to Loango to see Nzambi / The Fight between the Two Fetishes, Lifuma and Chimpukela / The Fetish of Chilunga etc.
The photographic images show: A Fjort Mother and her Child / A Bakutu who came to Loango to see Nzambi / Climbing a Palm-Tree for Palm-Wine / Funeral Shimbec / Prince Xikaia by the Funeral Car of his Brother, Linguister Francisco (shewing his uncle’s body wrapped in cloth, ready for burial and remains of the destroyed shimbec of the deceased [Photographic Example of Sepulchral Culture in Africa – Photographisches Beispiel von Sepulkralkultur in Afrika]
Dennett “speaks on the subjects of the Fjorts from a knowledge gained during seventeen years of close association and sympathy with them, and possesses also a thorough knowledge of their language.” As trader, Dennett is familiar with those whom he lived among, as “the trader knows his African better than all the other sorts of white men put together…. [and] feels more than other men the fascination of West Africa, in other words that he understands West Africa, and therefore that he is the person most fitted to speak regarding it, and the most valuable collector of facts that the student of the primitive culture in the region can get to act for him.” (i-viii)
Richard Edward Dennett (1857-1921) worked as an ivory trader in the Lower Congo between 1879 and 1902. In 1886 he drew attention to the brutal treatment of the Congloese through his letters to the Manchester Guardian. Moreover, he also edited a manuscript newspaper called “Congo Mirror” and accused the Congo officials of the murders and atrocities being committed. He was to become an active member of the Congo Reform Association, which sought to improve conditions for indigenous workers. Through his writings he met and frequently communicated with a number of influential people such as Roger Casement, Consul for the British government and journalist Edward Dene Morel, who produced the famous 1903 Congo Report.
(Profile on Dennett available from the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery)
Dennett also studied the indigenous BaKongo community, recording his observations about their political and material culture. As a result he became involved in the institutions of anthropology and folklore in Britain which were attempting to explain, classify and interpret such cultures. Through examining Dennett’s history this research has been able to explore the Congo context, the indigenous society, and those European institutions which collected and interpreted BaKongo collections. (University of Plymouth)
The Folk-Lore Society was founded in London in 1878 to study traditional vernacular culture, including traditional music, song, dance and drama, narrative, arts and crafts, customs and belief. The journal began as The Folk-Lore Record in 1878, continued or was restarted as The Folk-Lore Journal, and from 1890 its issues were compiled as volumes entitled “Folk-Lore: A Quarterly Review of Myth, Tradition, Institution, & Custom. Incorporating The Archæological Review and The Folk-Lore Journal”. Joseph Jacobs edited the first four annual volumes as the Quarterly Review, succeeded by Alfred Nutt. As the head of David Nutt (publishing house) in the Strand, Alfred Nutt was the publisher from 1890 (Wikipedia)