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Nkisi figure

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15002000Nkisi zoomorphic figure - CongoThe bilongo (magic charges) in this figure have been revealed by a radiograph taken at the National Museum of Natural History. Nkisi zoomorphic figure - CongoThe bilongo (magic charges) in this figure have been revealed by a radiograph taken at the National...Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/styles/exposition/public/multimedia/0006d.jpg?itok=f6e1f249Le Havre Museum of Natural History – Photo credit : C. Livonnen
12512000The nkisi is intended for personal and family use. It is activated by the nganga (diviner/healer) through the inclusion of one or several bilongo. The nkisi is intended for personal and family use. It is activated by the nganga (diviner/healer)...Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/styles/exposition/public/multimedia/0006a.jpg?itok=Adr7krtXLe Havre Museum of Natural History – Photo credit : C. Livonnen
12662000The nkisi is believed to spread the vital energy it holds and provide its owner with remedies against diseases or solutions to his problems.The nkisi is believed to spread the vital energy it holds and provide its owner with remedies...Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/styles/exposition/public/multimedia/0006b_0.jpg?itok=iNjpxGVoLe Havre Museum of Natural History – Photo credit : C. Livonnen
1000901Usually anthropomorphic, this canine nkisi figure is probably associated with the world of spirits. Dogs were thought to be intermediates between the world of the living and the world of the dead. Usually anthropomorphic, this canine nkisi figure is probably associated with the world of spirits....Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/styles/exposition_portrait/public/multimedia/0006c_0.jpg?itok=ILfgubSoLe Havre Museum of Natural History – Photo credit : C. Livonnen
10241040RadiographThe bilongo (magic charges) in this figure have been revealed by a radiograph taken at the National Museum of Natural History. RadiographThe bilongo (magic charges) in this figure have been revealed by a radiograph taken at the National...Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/styles/exposition/public/multimedia/nkisi_1_00000_0.jpg?itok=yqGj29ETLe Havre Museum of Natural History - Photo Laboratoire MNHN
10241040RadiographThey contain seeds, hair, teeth, and various binders, as well as fabric braids and clay. RadiographThey contain seeds, hair, teeth, and various binders, as well as fabric braids and clay. Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/styles/exposition/public/multimedia/nkisi_4_00000.jpg?itok=FiJ_Qli1Havre Museum of Natural History - Photo Laboratoire MNHN
10241040RadiographRadiographZoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/styles/exposition/public/multimedia/nkisi_9_00000.jpg?itok=1EA7xfaeHavre Museum of Natural History - Photo Laboratoire MNHN
10241040RadiographRadiographZoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/styles/exposition/public/multimedia/nkisi_10_00000.jpg?itok=RvF7wbNuHavre Museum of Natural History - Photo Laboratoire MNHN
10241040Radiographie de l'objetSmall pieces of mica are used to reproduce the eyes. Radiographie de l'objetSmall pieces of mica are used to reproduce the eyes. Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/styles/exposition/public/multimedia/nkisi_14_00000.jpg?itok=o7KcDMi2Havre Museum of Natural History - Photo Laboratoire MNHN
10241040RadiographRadiographZoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/styles/exposition/public/multimedia/nkisi_16_00000.jpg?itok=4C6ygTmsHavre Museum of Natural History - Photo Laboratoire MNHN

Nkisi zoomorphic figure

 

  • Origin : Congo

  • Ethnic group : Kongo or Vili

  • Date : 19th century

  • Materials : wood, fabric, vegetable fibres, clay, teeth, reeds, mica, iron

  • Dimensions : 35.5 cm x 8 cm

  • Inventory number : 2008.4.383

This figure depicting a dog is called a nkisi. This fetish is believed to contain spiritual powers, held in its ventral and dorsal cavities. These cavities contain magic charges called bilongo : seeds, hair, teeth, and various binders, as well as fabric braids and clay. Small pieces of mica are used to reproduce the eyes. 

The nkisi is intended for personal and family use. It is activated by the nganga (diviner/healer) through the inclusion of one or several bilongo. The nkisi is believed to spread the vital energy it holds and provide its owner with remedies against diseases or solutions to his problems.

Usually anthropomorphic, this canine nkisi figure is probably associated with the world of spirits. Dogs were thought to be intermediates between the world of the living and the world of the dead. The presence of braids also supports this hypothesis : the use of red and white fabrics being usually related to the world of the dead.

 


Mica : A shiny silicate mineral with a layered structure.

Anthropomorphic : Resembling or made to resemble a human form.

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