African Tribal Art Wooden Carved statue tribal wood Fetish Nkisi Nkonde - Kongo-18.4/11 CM. The Minkisi (plural of Nkisi) are truly the embodiment of a spiritual entity that submits to human control through rites. They are used to solve all kinds of problems illness, sterility, conflicts... The Minkisi were also the repositories of the collective memory of the clan and could also be used on occasion to avenge the innocent by inflicting on the perjurer a sudden illness or by killing him. They are generally anthropomorphic statues 15 to 30 cm high, with a ventral cavity in which the magic charge is placed: the bilongo.This is made up of various plant and animal substances placed in the cavity closed by a resinous plug decorated with shells or mirrors. The mirror allowed the diviner to detect the approach of sorcerers coming from each of the four directions. The act of closing this receptacle is not insignificant because it indicates that the powers invoked can be mastered. It is the diviner, the Nganga, who during a ceremony places the charge and thereby activates the powers of the statue using multiple touches. Subsequently, since he is the intercessor between the person who comes to consult him and the Nkisi, the Nganga licks a nail or a piece of metal and drives it into the body of the statue. This ritual is sometimes reproduced in sculpture, some Nkisi having their tongue hanging out. According to the sources, it will be noted that sometimes it was the customer himself who licked the nail before driving it into the statue (Treasures of Africa - Tervuren page 288). By licking the nail, the diviner and/or the client, thus "awakens" the spirit of the Nkisi which can now be solicited by invocations. Then it was all about the eyes. There was the gaze of the Nkisi which, through its eyes of metal or shiny mirror, seemed to stare at the one taking the oath. And conversely, the gaze of the customer who could not detach himself from the piece of mirror present on the belly of the statue where the magic substances were hidden. The face was treated with care because it had to be aggressive. The mouth was still open representing the cry of the one who takes the oath. According to the regions and the attributions of the statue, the Nkisi (most often anthropomorphic) had different physical attitudes.
Those who clutched a weapon with their raised right arm were the most dynamic, the most effective. Those with an open mouth received food offerings along with being asked to "eat" the unknown criminal against whom it was activated.
(Treasures of Africa - Tervuren page 288) Other Minkisi, without nails but with a belly load, are shown kneeling on the ground, often bichrome, the head looking to the left and the ribs well marked (example the cover of the book "Le geste Kongo" Editions Dapper). It is suggested that this highlighting of the ribs may refer to the disease that the Kongo call Lubanzi (the ribs) and which designates pneumonia as well as other respiratory pathologies. The protruding tongue indicating that it is appropriate to lick medicine during the ritual.(Treasures of Africa - Tervuren page 286). An original patina covers the item. This item is in the category "Collectibles\Cultures & Ethnicities\African\1900-Now\Masks".
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