Wood - Late nineteenth to early twentieth century
This bell is from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It has a wooden casing, with triple wooden clappers held with fibre rope. It was probably worn on the wrist by men while dancing. The wooden pegs rattle, with the wooden box acting as a soundbox. The box is made from a single piece of wood with a very intricate pattern that would have required great skill to carve.
The bell was brought to Reading by John and William Forfeitt. They both travelled to what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo for the Baptist Missionary Society, the former as Secretary and the latter as a Missionary. It is likely objects such as this were collected as curios, given up by locals who had been converted to Christianity, or brought back to Britain for use in missionary exhibitions and fundraising talks. The Forfeitts had links to significant Reading families and businesses - both worked for Suttons Seeds before their mission with the BMS, and William Forfeitt married a daughter of the Collier family.
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