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Male Figure (Nkisi Nkondi)

A wooden carving of a male figure. The figure has a distinctive face, with oval-shaped eyes and mouth, and wears a cap on his head. His body is covered in various shells, bones, feathers, fabric, and metal nails, and he holds a mirror-sealed resin packet over his stomach.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A wooden carving of a male figure. The figure has a distinctive face, with oval-shaped eyes and mouth, and wears a cap on his head. His body is covered in various shells, bones, feathers, fabric, and metal nails, and he holds a mirror-sealed resin packet over his stomach.

Date:

Early/mid–19th century

Artist:

Vili
Republic of the Congo
Central Africa

About this artwork

The term nkisi refers to spirit-invested objects that were empowered with medicinal and magical ingredients called bilongo. In the case of this male figure, the bilongo are enclosed in the cap on the head and in the mirror-sealed resin packet on the abdomen. The name nkondi refers to the figure’s ability to hunt down and punish wrongdoers. A nail or a blade was driven into the figure to prompt the inhabiting spirit at every consultation.

On View

Arts of Africa, Gallery 137

Culture

Vili

Title

Male Figure (Nkisi Nkondi)

Places

Republic of the Congo (Object made in), Africa (Object made in)

Date

1801-1875

Medium

Wood, metal, glass, fabric, fiber, cowrie shells, bone, leather, gourd, and feathers

Dimensions

H. 72 cm (28 1/3 in.)

Credit Line

Ada Turnbull Hertle Endowment

Reference Number

1998.502

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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