Minkisi (sing. nkisi) contain magical substances (“medicines”) that, depending upon the context, are used for protection or devastation. Carved wood human figures like this one hunt wrongdoers in matters of civil law. He is simultaneously chief, doctor, priest, and judge. The figure is studded with nails and blades, which indicate how often it has been used. This power figure is one of several large-scale sculptures brought to Europe between 1880 and 1910 (and now in public collections) that originated in a single workshop on the Chiloango River, which flows along the border of present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo and Cabinda. STANDING POWER FIGURE (NKISI NKONDI) Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chiloango River Valley, Yombe peoples Late 19th century–early 20th century Wood, iron, raffia, ceramic, pigment, cowrie shell, kaolin, red camwood, resin, dirt, leaves, animal skins, and cowrie shell


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