Power figure (Nkisi n' kondi). Kongo Peoples (Democratic Republic of the Congo). c late 19th Century C.E. Wood and metal.
-Each figures is Activated differently; Every time the owner inserts a blade or nail- you are prodding the spirit to do the work.
-Specific chants, rubbing the images, or applying special powders also were involved.
-Roles of power figures varied from curing minor ailments to stimulating crop growth, punishing thieves and weakening enemies.
-More naturalistic in comparison with other sculptures of African peoples; face is still simplified – magnified head for emphasis.
-Depicts a man penetrated with many nails and blades.
-Each figure has its specific role and wears a particular medicine at its stomach; this one has a large cowrie shell ( Represents Goddess protection which is very powerful and connected with the strength of the ocean).
-Nearly 4 feet tall (wood and metal). Exceptionally large for power figure sculpture. Sculpture contains variety of contrasting textures (smoothness of the figure's skin vs. jagged protrusions of forms towards it's mid-section).
-Created by trained priests using precise ritual formulas, embodied spirits believed to heal and give life, or sometimes inflict harm, disease, or even death.
-both ‘contain’ and ‘release’ spiritual forces which can have both positive and negative consequences on the community.
-Due to the size of this figure, it had exceptional ascribed powers and aided entire communities.
nkisi n’kondi- Kongo Power Figures