African Missionary Museum at Padua
The African Missionary Museum at Padua was established thanks to Capuchin friars who brought to Italy, mainly from Angola, items of great artistic and ethnographical value as well as everyday life artefacts. These objects help to know culture, life, values and religious beliefs of some African Bantu populations. The exhibition displays statues, masks, fetishes, musical instruments and everyday life objects. The small statues, mostly carved, represent figures relevant for the life of religious and social groups. A typical example of handicraft is the ‘kuku’ (the ‘thinker’), a popular statue representing an old person sitting with his arms on his knees and his hands around the head. The ‘kuku’, today almost the symbol of Angolan culture, is an artwork of supreme beauty whose harmony and symmetry convey the idea of perfection and wisdom. Other recurring models of African statues are the ‘maternity’ representations, celebrating the importance of fertile women, the fetishes, magical carvings thought to host ghosts and to possess mysterious powers, and the ‘command sticks’, wooden manufactured objects symbol of the leader’s power. The museum collections include also African masks considered the privileged mean for knowing African moral and religious codes. According to the tradition, the mask hiding a man reveals the reality beyond the man himself, that is, the supernatural world of spirits that can be conjured up with fetishes containing magical matter, called ‘bonga’, capable of interfering with human life. The museum also hosts some peculiar African musical instruments: drums, (ngoma), typical African pianos (kissanje), xylophones (marimba), instruments to be shaked (sakaias) and a rich collection of stuffed birds and mammals.
Piazzale Santa Croce, Padova
Tel +39 049 8803466
Fax +39 049 8805526