Translated in the early 19th Century, the Rosetta Stone provided the conduit through which Egyptian hieroglyphics could be deciphered and translated from Greek. This bridge provided the fertile ground from which greater research and study of Egyptian thought blossomed throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.
Our Rosetta Chapter analogizes this significant historical event by highlighting additional graphic writing traditions and symbolism designed to transmit knowledge, construct cultural bridges and enlarge our horizons.
Our first designs in this Chapter focus on the history and beauty of Mandombe. Revealed to David Wabeladio Payi in a dream during the 1970s, Mandombe was created to be a universal phonetic writing system and it is still being used in Kinshasa to this day.
Not only visually beautiful, the script is also based on concise geometrical principles. Consonants and vowels turn at 45 and 90-degree angles on a plane but are linked to one another by rotating the last vector of each letter through three-dimensional space. Accordingly, it has been argued that this writing system was deliberately designed to reflect the belief systems, symbols and cosmography of broader Bantu-Kongo culture, which incorporate similar geometric principles.
In celebration of this script and the cultures reflected in its construction and design, we’ve made a series of items which read, “Unknown Union”, in Mandombe.
Fu Kiau Bunseki has described the dikenga as a foundation of Kongo thought as follows: "These four points of demarcation are very important for Kongo people. The circle that is made by the sun's apparent movement is the first geometrical picture given to human beings. We move the way the sun moves.
We wake up, we stand up, we become active as leaders in this world, and die and eventually come back. Dying is not an end. Dying for the Kongo is just going on vacation. The horizon line is the line between the physical and spiritual world. It literally means 'the line of God that cannot be measured.'
To stand on the cosmogram is to tie a social knot, bringing people together. It shows the sign of the cross was known to the Kongo before the arrival of Europeans and corresponds to the understanding in their mind of their relationship to their world."
#1 is musoni, yellow. The time of rising, when the creator god is deciding what the child to be born will be. #2 is kala, black. When the sun rises, living beings are born and enter the physical world. #3 is tukala, red. This is the age of maturity, profound knowledge and leadership. #4 is luvemba, gray/white. This is the age of wisdom, of one who is beginning to separate himself from the physical world and is prepared to give the best of his life to his community.