Nkisi N'Kondi Power Figure, Bakongo, DR Congo/Zaire

Regular price $40,250.00

Bakongo people, Democratic Republic of Congo: A large Nkisi N'Kondi Power Figure, made of carved wood with nails, chains, glass, shells, fabric, forged-metal, pigments and natural materials. Mid 20th Century.

A n'kisi (plural: minkisi) is loosely translated as a "spirit" yet it is represented as a container of sacred substances which are activated by supernatural forces that can be summoned into the physical world. This n'kisi has a container for such elements in its torso. The glass covering represents the otherworldly use of its contents. In addition, the eyes are enhanced with white kaolin pigment and may once have been covered with glass. The lower rear torso has a large fabric-covered medicine bundle decorated with cowrie shells and barely visible through a multitude of nails.

Nkisi n'kondi
A Nkisi n'kondi (power figure) is a magical charm carved in the likeness of human being, meant to highlight its function in human affairs. A n'kisi n'kondi can be used to resolve verbal disputes or lawsuits (mambu) as well as to be an avenger (the term n'kondi means ‘hunter’) or guardian if sorcery or any form of evil has been committed.

Minkisi are carved under the divine authority and in consultation with an nganga or spiritual specialist. The nganga activates the figures through the insertion of nails, chanting, praying and the preparation of sacred substances which are aimed at ‘curing’ physical, social or spiritual ailments.

Comparable, but smaller, Nkisi N'Kondi figures are illustrated in Robbins and Nooter, AFRICAN ART IN AMERICAN COLLECTIONS, Page 369, plates 954 and 955.

DIMENSIONS: Approx. 38"H x 14"W x 14"D

PROVENANCE: Private collection.

CONDITION: Good condition. Minor abrasions, minor wood loss on the base.