Power Figure (nkisi nkondi)
Ritual specialists (nganga) commissioned artists to carve figures such as this one which are physical containers for spirits from the other world. Once the figure was completed, the nganga-a counselor or mediator skilled in treating afflictions of the body and spirit-activated it. Now it had the power to heal and protect and to punish wrong doers. The nganga hammered nails or blades into the work to seal a vow or to awake its power to solve a problem or dispute. This figure's open mouth suggests the uttering of judgments, and the abdomen and eyes contain mirrors to deflect danger.
Artform: African Art: SCULPTURE
Artist: Kongo People
Country/Culture: Democratic Republic of Congo
Period: 19th century
Date: 19th-20th centuries
Medium: Wood, glass, iron nails, pigment, sacred material
Size: 61 x 30.5 x 20.3 cm
Subject: Figure, Male
Museum: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
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