Anonymous: Nkisi Nkondi (19th century)

(Brooklyn Museum, New York City, USA)

Another object from Africa. This is a carved wooden figure from called a Nkisi NKondi or 'Spirit Hunter'. These statues were made by the Kongo people of the Congo region (the countries of Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo and Angola). These figures were made by a ritual expert called 'nganga' who places sacred herbs and relics inside a chamber in the belly of the statue which makes the statue a home of a spirit. People could then use the spirit inside the statue for a petition for help ('hunt for a solution'), healing, 'hunt' wrongdoers inside the village, or witness of a contract or a pledge. This could be done by driving a nail into the statue which symbolizes the oath which the client is making with the spirit and also 'awakens' the spirit within. These statues often had a mirror which is the eye of the spirit, a window from which the spirit can look from his world into ours. It also functions as a windows for the nganga so he can look inside the spirit world and look into the future and see what evil powers are at work and were they are. The mirror also functions as a defense - the magic of a witch is reflected back by the mirror. Statue from the 19th century.