Power Figure, Nkisi

11008124-1994_004_020_Apa_ARC.tif

Title

Power Figure, Nkisi

Keywords

Effigy, fetish, sculpture

Date

late 19th-early 20th Century

Context

Central Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Songye

Medium/Dimensions

Wood, brass, bone, incrustation
9 x 2 1/4 x 2 3/4 in. (22.9 x 5.7 x 7 cm)

Object Number

1994.004.020

Description

Power figures (pl. minkisi/mankisi) are found in many cultures of the Democratic Republic of Congo. These figures are usually male, and were used to contact benevolent spirits in the hope of curing illness, infertility, or other maladies. Various substances with magical properties, called bishimba, were placed inside cavities in the stomach or head of the figure to enhance its power. Local diviners were entrusted with the creation of the bishimba. Many of these figures are adorned with raffia, beads, and even ceremonial dress in an effort to increase the magical properties they possess. Often these additional adornments of cloth and beads are removed before the figure changes ownership due to the importance of the powerful embellishments in the figure's ability to function magically. This is why many figures no longer have beads and clothing when they arrive in the West.

Credit Line

Ex coll. William S. Arnett

Exhibits/Publications

Divine Intervention: African Art and Religion, Michael C. Carlos Museum, February 5 - December 4, 2011
Michael C. Carlos Museum Handbook (Atlanta: Michael C. Carlos Museum, 1996), 112.

Rights

© Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Michael McKelvey.
This image is provided by the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University, who retains all rights in it. This image is made available for limited non-commercial, educational, and personal use only, or for fair use as defined by United States law. For all other uses, please contact the Michael C. Carlos Museum Office of Collections Services at +1(404) 727-4282 or mccm.collections.services@emory.edu. Users must cite the author and source of the image as they would material from any printed work, but not in any way that implies endorsement of the user or the user's use of the image. Users may not remove any copyright, trademark, or other proprietary notices, including without limitation attribution information, credits, and copyright notices that have been placed on or near the image by the Museum. The Museum assumes no responsibility for royalties or fees claimed by the artist or third parties. The User agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Emory University, its Michael C. Carlos Museum, its agents, employees, faculty members, students and trustees from and against any and all claims, losses, actions, damages, expenses, and all other liabilities, including but not limited to attorney’s fees, directly or indirectly arising out of or resulting from its use of photographic images for which permission is granted hereunder.

On View

No

Citation

“Power Figure, Nkisi,” Michael C. Carlos Museum Collections Online, accessed January 17, 2018, http://carlos.digitalscholarship.emory.edu/items/show/7971.

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