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Remarkable Kongo or Bakongo statue depicting a standing naked man. This is a power figure Nkishi or Nkisi made by a sculptor on order of a client, the latter having been advised by the diviner. This is an old super fetish, probably late 1940s, early 1950s collected in Matadi by its former owner.
There is an extremely prominent abdomen still containing the magical charge used almost a century ago. The wood is old but well preserved. The face is expressive. Visible teeth are cut for aesthetic purposes like those of Bakongo individuals. The raised arm is a sign of aggressiveness and power. Originally, a spear was inserted into a closed fist.
Mankishi figures were revered throughout the Kongo kingdom. They are in fact receptacles accommodating a variety of magical objects called themselves Nkishi (Nkisi) which can be bags, roots or leaves, and are worn on the head or the abdomen. By extension we therefore name the figure Nkishi or Nkisi.
These statues were manipulated by the owner or by a specialist, called Nganga, in order to respond favorably to the different spirits and forces supposed to regulate the world. In order to activate the magical power and invoke the spirit, the Nganga could insult the fetish, sing or even drive a blade or a nail into the body. Those who carry a spear, as it was originally here, are ready to strike the person or spirit responsible for a curse in order to punish it.
Piece appraised by Mr. Gaunt, specialist in ethnographic art, Buxton Museum, United Kingdom. Ref SQ3295139
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