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Yombe (Kiyombe) People

Location: Far NW Tip of Democratic Rep of the Congo and Rep of Congo

Population: 350,000

Arts: It is virtually impossible to define the difference in Yombe arts and that of their larger neighbors, the Kongo. Their long association with, and domination by, the Kongo has resulted in the absorption of most of the familiar Kongo art forms. Like the Kongo, they produce imposing power figures, the "nkisi" and "nkonde," beautiful initiation masks, and gorgeous maternity figures, known as "phemba." Prestige items are also important. For a discussion of the art of the Yombe, distinct from the Kongo mostly in academic terms, see the write-up under "Kongo," found under the list of peoples.

History: The Yombe are thought to have migrated to the tip of the two Congos, from what is today Gabon, during the 14th century. Oral traditions link them with the old Mayomba Kingdom, from which they took their name. The expansion of the Kongo Kingdom in the late 17th century forced the Yombe to move from banks of the Congo River, but they stayed in the general area, heavily influenced not only by the Kongo but also by Portuguese colonists.