Songye Nkishi janus fetish figure


Magical power in Congo beliefs

This large African nkishi fetish originating from the Songye in the D.R. Congo is a statue of power intended for protection. Exceptionally, this fetish presents two faces leaning against each other whose sculptural treatment is very similar to the famous Kifwebe masks of the eponymous company.

The Nkishi possessed a variety of accessories in order to increase their magical power. Thus, we observe on this copy a loincloth and rope on the body. We also see that at the top of the skull is a cavity in which is still buried a magic charge coated in fabric. The whole is originally covered with a summit horn. This remarkable fetish of power was obviously used ritually.

The presence of two back-to-back heads reinforces the nkishi's capacity for keen vision and circumspection, which can thus see the dangers and threats coming from all directions and protect its owners from them.

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Data sheet

Presumed dating
Mid XXth century
53 cm
Ethnic group
Songye / Basongye
Wood, accessories
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Tribal art collection Belgium

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