Entry Door with Ancient African Kingdoms in panels



King Lalibela of Ethiopia carving church from solid rock (2nd row, right).



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African Heritage Classroom



Entry Door


The iroko wood entry door panels portray nine ancient and medieval African kingdoms. Adapted from historic artistic representations by Yoruba master carver Lamidi Fakeye, the panels (reading left to right, top to bottom) depict:


PHARAONIC EGYPT - Akhenaten, Nefertiti and their children seated under the Aten, the Sun Disk. Akhenaten, who reigned from 1370 to 1353 B.C., was the first ruler to conceptualize a monotheistic religion. His god was an omnipresent father of mankind manifested by the Sun.


NUBIA (Napata) - King Taharka (693-666 B.C.) of Napata (Nubia) and his wife Amentikahat participate in the Sed, a spring fertility ceremony. Mentioned in the Bible (2 Kings 19:9: Isaiah 37:9), Taharka was one of the last Kushite rulers of lower Egypt.


NUBIA (Meroe) - King Natakamani (1st century B.C.) and Queen Amentari, flank the lion-god Apedemak and represent the cultural peak of the Meroitic kingdom of Nubia/Kush.


ETHIOPIA - King Lalibela (13th century A.D.) hews a church out of solid rock. Ethiopia adopted Christianity in the 4th century, thus becoming the world's second-oldest Christian nation. In the 13th century, Lalibela commissioned 11 churches to be carved from solid rock.


BENIN - A 17th-century Queen Mother flanked by her court. This graceful form furnishes the classroom’s symbol of Mother Africa. Traditionally, a Benin king would commission a bronze bust of his mother, who was held in high esteem and consulted on state matters.


KONGO/ANGOLA - Queen Nzinga, a staunch enemy of the slave trade, is seen negotiating with a Portuguese governor of Angola. This panel, based on a 17th-century Italian woodcut, shows the Queen, denied the courtesy of a seat, using the back of a member of her delegation for that purpose.


KUBA - Three figures found on royal statues of the Kuba (or Bushoong) people of Zaire grace this panel. The middle king, Shambo Bolongongo or Shyaam aMbul aNgoong, was a 17th-century ruler who introduced the game of lela (known elsewhere in Africa as wari and mankala) to his people. A wari game is featured in the room.


MALI - Mansa Musa holds a piece of gold as an Arab trader approaches on camelback. A patron of education, King Musa chose Timbuktu as the location for the 14th-century Sankore Mosque which housed the University of Timbuktu, one of the world's oldest universities.


ZIMBABWE - A soapstone dish discovered in the 13th century stone ruins of the Zimbabwe royal palace bears charming zebra figures. Zimbabwe was once a major center for the production and trade of gold, copper, and iron; its decline remains a mystery.



Bottom left door panel is based on a 14th century Catalan map showing Mansa Musa, king of Timbuktu, holding a gold nugget which he is offering to a Muslim merchant who is approaching on camel.