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HOME : African & Tribal Art : AS collection : Songye Nkisi figure in wood
Songye Nkisi figure in wood - MS.2021

Additional Information: AS

Location: Great Britain
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The Songye people are an ethnic group from the central Democratic Republic of the Congo, well- known wood carvers who are renowned for making ceremonial masks, power figures and other ceremonial items. Central African “Power figures” are among the ubiquitous genres identified with African art and conceived to house specific mystical forces, they were collaborative creations of Congo sculptors and ritual specialists. This work was the product of an intense collaboration between a sculptor and the initiated priest "nganga," who controlled its use in his professional practice. After an artist completed carving the artifact, the "nganga" transformed it into an object capable of healing illness, settling disputes, safeguarding the peace, and punishing wrongdoers. Each work of this kind or "nkisi" is associated with a spirit, that is subjected to a degree of human control. Nkisi are spirits, or an object that a spirit inhabits and the term is frequently applied to a variety of objects used throughout the Congo Basin in Central Africa that are believed to contain spiritual powers or spirits. Among the many amulets and bound bundles attached to this "nkisi" is a small bell. The bell is believed to sound in the land of the dead and are therefore used to call the spirit of the "nkisi." - (MS.2021)


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