Here's a short extract from the E.B on the Laongo kingdom, founded by the Vili :
"also called Brama Kingdom, former African state in the basin of the Kouilou and Niari rivers (now largely in southwestern Congo [Brazzaville]). Founded by the Vili people, (Bavili), probably before 1485, it was one of the oldest and largest kingdoms of the region. By 1600 it was importing ivory and slaves from the interior along well-established trade routes that extended as far inland as Malebo Pool.
Administration was orderly but decentralized. The men in line for succession to the crown served as provincial governors, rotating provinces in a set sequence each time a king died. Other territorial officials held office for life. By the 18th century, power had become fragmented. A long interregnum began in 1786, and when a king was finally enthroned he lacked any real authority."
That said, here's the really interesting bit, from one of those frustratingly colonialist but still useful studies( circa 1906) by a R. E. Dennett.
"The Bavili use beads also to count with (BILABU or the blue glass beads); LABU as père Visseg tells us is the most subtle part of fire.
Thus (to-day rarely but) twenty years ago generally if you watched the Bavili counting you would notice that when he counted one he would put two beads on the ground, two, two more, and so on until he had counted four, when he would place two apart. These he would amass, and then place two beads on one side, so that when he had counted eight he would have two heaps of ten each plus four beads or 24 in all. These he would amass again and place one on one side (25 or one generation) so that when he had counted forty he really had 80 + 16 + 4 = 100.
Now the word for ten is Kumi (from KUMA to cause, to reason) and ten is the square root of KAMA, a word meaning (the royal wife and) 100.
The smallest measure that I know of is what the natives call XITINI, that is from the tip of the middle finger to the bottom of its joint or its root in the palm of the hand. It measures two nails or 41/2 inches, and is used in measuring tobacco, long strings of which are cut up into these BITINI. The value of the XITINI of tobacco was 36 BILABU or beads, two Bitini make one MBOKANA (palm) and two MBOKANA make one LUBONGO ZIFULA (or a piece or native grass cloth measuring 18 inches or a cubit). Its value being 144 beads.
2 ZIMBONGO= I MAKABA or yard.
2 MAKABA = I NTAMA or fathom, and this may be said to be their standard measure.
Three NTAMA (or 12 mats in one bundle)=one MBONDO, while four MBONDO=One NLELE BIFUNZI (or 48 mats) or the bundle that a man is expected to contribute towards any of his wife's near relations' funeral expenses. These mats are sewn together also for the purpose of shrouds, thus six mats make a SAMBANO, complete cloth, four of which are sewn together to look as if there were only three to make a shroud, That is to say, two are first sewn together, then two more, and one of the latter is allowed to fall on one of the former just to cover it and then sewn that way, so that one complete shroud is composed Of 24 pieces or ZIMBONGO ZIFULA.
The King is first wrapped in one shroud (24 cubits). After an interval when his body has been dried, he is wrapped in three shrouds (72 cubits), and finally, just before burial in six shrouds, or 144 cubits. The NLELE BIFUNZI is valued at 7,200 beads.
120 Beads= 1 LOMBi or string.
1,400 " or 12 MILOMBI = 1 XIKO or a bunch (50).
14,400 " or 10 BIKO = 1 NSUKU or KAMA 400.
144,000 " or 10 MISUKU = 1 XIVIEVE (1000).
In the olden days cottons were sent out in accordance with the demand of the natives in pieces 24 yards long doubled in 24 laps or 12 folds. In 1880 the length was 20 yards, in 1883 it went down to 18 yards, and latterly, when the trader was obliged to pay import dues and taxes to the different Governments, the length quickly fell to eight yards. "
For more see:
|Precessional code in the measurement system of the Vili people of Congo||415||Tehuti_son||30-May-03 20:03|
|Re: Precessional code in the measurement system of the Vili people of Congo||101||fisherman||30-May-03 21:01|
|Re: Precessional code in the measurement system of the Vili people of Congo||94||Tehuti_son||30-May-03 21:25|