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African art - The fetish, this emblematic object of primitive art :

Fetishes are emblematic objects in primitive African art. Used by fetishists and marabouts, they are linked to a number of occult practices such as those used by voodoo.


Songye bust fetish
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African art > The fetish, this emblematic object of primitive art > Songye bust

Statuette-fetish Nkisi , nkishi (pl. mankishi ) featuring a busty, masked figure. Glossy black patina. Slightly missing, desiccation cracks.

These protective fetishes for homes are among the most prized in Africa. The Nkisi plays the role of mediator between gods and men. The larger examples are collectively owned by an entire village, while the smaller figures belong to an individual or a family. In the sixteenth century, the Songyes migrated from the Shaba region to settle on the left bank of the Lualaba River. Their society is organized in a patriarchal manner. Their history is inseparable from that of the Luba to whom they are related through common ancestors. The Songyes have created impressive statues with powerful features that are often used during secret ...


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190.00  152.00

Fon Vodun Fetiche
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African art > The fetish, this emblematic object of primitive art > Fon Vodun Fetiche

As other Fon fetishes, this statue is a wooden structure covered with aggregates mixed with hairs, probably warthogs and primates. The bent forearms make each other join hands. Facial features can still be vaguely distinguished under libations.

In the course of its history, fon art has been imbued with Yoruba and ewe creations according to migration and trade. However, this art cannot be reduced to these two influences. Indeed, the Fon themselves have brought their originality to their statuary.
Voodoo or vodun, a religious cult whose name comes from a variant of the Yoruba word meaning 'god', is found in them in particular.
These statues were therefore used during vodun rituals according to different procedures.
The slave trade on the coast, the term ...


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Songye Kalebwe Nkishi fetish statue
African art > The fetish, this emblematic object of primitive art > Songye fetish

Statuette Nkisi, nkishi (pl. mankishi ) camped high on a rounded base. The power of the fetish, according to Songye beliefs, would be reinforced by the presence of its accessories, such as the summit horn and the various additions of materials and accessories, vegetable fibers, animal skins, dried fruits, etc... Semi-matt brown patina. Cracks.
These protective fetishes for homes are among the most prized in Africa. The Nkisi plays the role of mediator between gods and men. The large examples are the collective property of an entire village, while the smaller figures belong to an individual or a family. In the sixteenth century, the Songyes migrated from the Shaba region to settle on the left bank of the Lualaba River. Their society is organized in a patriarchal manner. ...


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240.00

Songye Nkisi fetish figure
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African art > The fetish, this emblematic object of primitive art > Songye figure

Fetish statue Nkisi , nkishi (pl. mankishi ) anthropomorphic desacralized, the umbilicus hollowed out having no magical charge At the top of his skull stood a horn, sealing the orifice into which ritual elements were also introduced. Light brown satin patina.

These protective fetishes for homes are among the most prized in Africa. The Nkisi plays the role of mediator between gods and men. The large examples are the collective property of an entire village, while the smaller figures belong to an individual or a family. In the sixteenth century, the Songyes migrated from the Shaba region to settle on the left bank of the Lualaba River. Their society is organized in a patriarchal manner. Their history is inseparable from that of the Luba to whom they are related through ...


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150.00  120.00

Songye fetish figure
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African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Songye fetish

A reduced reproduction of the kifwebe mask related to the Bwadi ka bifwebe society composes the face of the anthropomorphic fetish here opposite. The latter was carved in a dense wood in geometric volumes. The symbolic and magical ritual accessories are presented here in the form of a necklace of blue beads. Light brown patina.
The fetish Songye, magical sculpture Nkisi, nkishi (pl. mankishi ), plays the role of mediator between gods and men. The larger specimens are collectively owned by an entire village, while the smaller figures belong to an individual or a family. In the 16th century, the Songyes migrated from the Shaba region to settle in Kasai, Katanga and South Kivu. Their society is organized in a patriarchal manner. Their history is inseparable from that ...


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180.00  144.00

Statue Nkishi Songye Kalebwe
African art > The fetish, this emblematic object of primitive art > Songye Fetish

This sculpture with angular shapes is the result of cooperation between the nganga, the craftsman and the client. Treated according to the instructions of the ritual priest, the figure intended for the client is then loaded with the elements bishimba intended to counter any evil force. In the case of the çi-contre fetish, the hollowed abdomen is devoid of it. The face is studded with upholstery nails. In African culture, metal has magical, therapeutic and apotropaic properties. The face that adopts the features of a middle-aged man recalls both the kifwebe mask. Satin black brown patina.
The fetish Songye , magical sculpture Nkisi , nkishi (pl. mankishi ), plays the role of mediator between gods and men. Large specimens are the collective property of an entire village, while smaller ...


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280.00

Zande figure of the Yanda cult
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African art > The fetish, this emblematic object of primitive art > Zande figure

Stylized Yanda figure, with a bust devoid of arms imprisoned in metal wire, carried by wide, semi-flexed legs. The nasal bridge is hatched with scarification marks, the earrings are missing. Grainy satin patina. African art counts two types of Azande statues: The statues Kudu , of a height between 30 and 50 cm represent ancestors, and the Yanda statues of 10 to 20 cm, of animal or human form, having an apotropaic role, exhibited during divinatory rites during the rituals of the Mani society. br> Formerly referred to as "Niam-Niam" because they were considered anthropophagous, the tribes grouped under the name of Zande , Azandé , settled, from Chad, on the border of the D.R.C.(Zaire), Sudan and the Central African Republic. According to their beliefs, man is endowed with two ...


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Kongo Nkisi fetish statuette
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African art > The fetish, this emblematic object of primitive art > Kongo Fetish

Among the Kongo, the nganga performed rituals by activating a spiritual force with a nkondi (pl. nkissi). The term nkisi was later used to refer to notions of "sacred" or "divine". The most influential category of "minkisi kongo" consisted of instruments to assist regional chiefs in enforcing the law. A metal object was nailed to a wooden figure as soon as a decision was made, each nail evoking a particular case: litigants, divorce, conflicts between communities...The nkondi wanted to ensure that the agreement that was to settle the conflict was well enforced, and that individuals feared the consequences of their behavior. His appearance thus personified the force residing there. From the second half of the twentieth century, minkisi minkondi were strategically placed along the coast of ...


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Kongo Vili fetish
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African art > The fetish, this emblematic object of primitive art > Vili fetish

This fetish with several heads symbolizing the ominivoyance is equipped with a resinous mass in which a magic charge is imprisoned. The object may have been designed for therapeutic purposes or as a protective figure against witchcraft.
The Vili, the Lâri, the Sûndi, the Woyo, the Bembé, the Bwende, the Yombé and the Kôngo formed the Kôngo group, led by the king ntotela. Their kingdom reached its peak in the 16th century with the ivory and copper trade and the slave trade. With the same beliefs and traditions, they produced a statuary with a codified gesture related to their worldview. Present along the Gabonese coast, the Vili broke away from the Kongo kingdom in the 16th century and the Loango kingdom became a powerful state. Now urbanized for the most part, they ...


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180.00  144.00

Calabash with female motif Hemba / Luba
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African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Hemba fetish

These bankishi (sing. nkishi ) carvings were used as part of the bugabo , a society devoted to hunting, healing, and warfare. A female figure, symbolizing the sacred relationship of woman and royalty, surmounts a calabash decorated with feathers. Dark oiled patina. The Hemba have long been subject to the neighboring Luba Empire, which has had a definite influence on their culture, religion and art. Ancestor worship is central to Hemba society. Genealogy guarantees privileges and the distribution of land. All aspects of the community are permeated by the authority of the ancestors. For example, the ancestors are considered to have influence over justice, medicine, law and sacrifice. Skilled in carving, the Hemba produced mostly statues of ancestors singiti , embodying chiefs, ...


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390.00  312.00

Ewe fetish statuette
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African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Statue Ewe

In Togo, fetishes are part of beneficial or evil rituals according to the intentions of their owner. Fetishists make them to order to offer protective and medicinal virtues but also offer more conventional ready-to-use versions.
These practices are still in use today are sometimes decried and considered animistic and overgone in the age of Christianization and Islamization. Nevertheless, people tend to maintain animist practices despite their conversion to the great monotheistic religions, both beliefs influencing each other.

The Ewe, often confused with the Minas, are the most important ethnic group in Togo. They are also found as minorities in Ghana, Benin, Côte d'Ivoire and Nigeria. Although little historical information is available about them, it seems that their ...


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Mambila Tadep statue
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African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Mambila statue

Despite their small numbers, the thirty thousand Mambila (or Mambilla, Mambere, Nor, Torbi, Lagubi, Tagbo, Tongbo, Bang, Ble, Juli, Bea)(the "men", in Fulani), settled in northwestern Cameroon, have created a large number of masks and statues easily identifiable by their heart-shaped faces. Although the Mambila believe in a creator god named Chang or Nama, they worship only their ancestors. Their chiefs were buried in granaries like wheat because they were thought to symbolize prosperity. Masks and statues were not to be seen by women.
Surmounted by an animal head, this figure with a face studded with perforations, very expressionist, with exorbitant pupils, adopts the classic attitude of Mambila statuary: the hand resting on the chin. The massive crenellated legs take up the ...


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290.00  232.00

Ritual sculpture Ewe mermaid of the waters
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African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Ewe statue

This two-headed figure is associated with the spirit of the waters. Matt polychrome patina. The intentions of their owner. The fetishists, following the divination ritual of the fa employing palm nuts, make them to order to offer protective and medicinal virtues but also offer more conventional ready-to-use versions.
The populations nevertheless tend to retain animistic practices despite their conversion to the major monotheistic religions.

The Ewe, often confused with the Minas, are the largest ethnic group in Togo. They are also found as minorities in Ghana, Benin, Ivory Coast and Nigeria. According to Hélène Joubert, the cults paid to the Yoruba gods, the orisha , and those of the vodou ,vodun gods, as well as their religious structure, would be comparable ...

Nkisi Songye Kalebwe statue
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African art > The fetish, this emblematic object of primitive art > Songye statue

African statue Nkisi, nkishi (pl. mankishi )of the Songye, which has a head with kifwebe mask features. The prominent abdomen is highlighted by a belt lined with various quolifichets. The magical charge bishimba was probably introduced at the top of the head from which a fragment of animal horn rises. A second horn, attached to the necklace of the fetish, is also charged with sometimes therapeutic ingredients. Shaded gray patina.
These protective fetishes intended for homes are among the most prized in Africa. The Nkisi plays the role of mediator between god and men, responsible for protecting against various evils. The large examples are the collective property of a whole village, and the smaller figures belong to an individual or a family.

Hemba Singiti ancestor figure
African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Hemba figure

This tribal art hemba miniature commemorating a local chief, an intermediary between men and gods, stands out for its camped attitude, carried by reduced legs. The mouth is symbolically inlaid with a nail.

Generally made of iroko, these ritual sculptures were venerated by a particular clan and stored in the funeral rooms of the chief's house. Lustrous brown patina. Desiccation crack. The Hemba, established in southeastern Zaire on the right bank of the Lualaba River, were long subject to the neighboring Luba empire, which had a definite influence on their culture, religion, and art. Ancestor worship, whose effigies have long been attributed to the Luba, is central to hemba society. Genealogy is indeed the guarantor of privileges and land distribution. All aspects ...


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240.00

Tabwa Mpundu fetish doll
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African art > African Dolls > Tabwa doll

African tribal art of the Tabwa, objects of prestige.

Used by the female initiation society, this limbless human figure has breasts and a protruding navel, scarifications comparable to the traditional ones of tribal members. Greyish brown patina. The Tabwa ("to scarify" and "to write") are an ethnic group present in the southeast of the DRC. Simple farmers with no centralized power, they federated around tribal chiefs after being influenced by the Luba. It is mainly during this period that their artistic current was expressed through statues but also masks. The Tabwa practiced ancestor worship and dedicated some of their statues named mkisi . Animists, their beliefs are anchored around the ngulu, nature spirits present in plants and rocks. The Luba dominated the ...


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240.00  192.00

Teke Biteke fetish statue
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African art > The fetish, this emblematic object of primitive art > Téké fetish

The bust of this statuette is spherical, ritually charged with magical ingredients named "Bonga" or "bilongo", draped with different textiles on which a thick crusty coating agglomerates. The face is traditionally streaked with scarifications. Shaded brown patina. Established between the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo and Gabon, the Téké were organized into chiefdoms whose head was often chosen from among the blacksmiths. The head of the family, mfumu , had the right of life or death over his family, whose importance determined his prestige. The head of the clan, ngantsié , for his part, kept the great protective fetish tar mantsié , which oversaw all ceremonies. It was the powerful witch doctor and diviner who "loaded" the individual statuettes with ...


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Iginga League Figurines
African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > League Figurines

African lega art and initiation materials.
Anthropomorphic statuette with a spherical head carried by thick bent legs. Among the many others used during initiations, it belonged to an initiate of the Bwami. The teacher guided the aspirant to a place where masks and statuettes were displayed, and it was through careful observation that the future initiate had to guess the more or less complex meaning of the metaphors evoked by the sculptures, the latter referring largely to proverbs and sayings. Those who were not allowed to see the object, in order to be protected from it, had to submit to costly ceremonies, and sometimes even join the lower rank of Bwami, the kongabulumbu ,at great expense to the families. Each of these initiations lasted seven days and included at least ...


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190.00

Totemic figure Kuyu, Kouyou
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African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Kouyou figure

Standing on a janiform base, this statue shows a female figure clutching a child to her chest. The scarifications refer to the scales of the mythical serpent Djo, who created the world and fathered Ebongo, the primordial hybrid ancestor of man. A granular polychrome patina, locally cracked, covers the whole fetish. Two totemic clans once formed the Kuyu ethnic group, living along the river of the same name in the northwestern part of the People's Republic of the Congo: in the west that of the panther, and in the east that of the snake. A secret male association, Ottoté , played an important political role in the appointment of chiefs. The initiation of young men ended with the revelation of the serpent god Ebongo represented in the form of a head. The Kibe-kibe dances that ...


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Yaka Yiteke fetish
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African art > The fetish, this emblematic object of primitive art > Yaka figure

These tribal statues, ritual charms belonging to lineages and providing protection against enemies, were made according to the instructions of the Nganga ngoombu and the object's patron. These African sculptures were then activated with rituals and incantatory formulas, and additions in the form of talismans or medicinal substances. The headdress is that of the earth chiefs, the nose has a characteristic snub nose shape. These sculptures were often hung in the huts. Matt patina, pinkish ochre highlights. Hierarchical and authoritarian, composed of formidable warriors, Yaka society was governed by lineage chiefs who had the right of life and death over their subjects. The hunt and the prestige that comes with it are the occasion today for the Yaka to invoke the ancestors ...


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Fon Voodoo fetish
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African art > The fetish, this emblematic object of primitive art > Fon fetish

Ex-collection British African art.
This pair of wooden fetishes intertwined with leather cords and straps, whose facial features seem to have been eroded by time, is typical of the Voodoo cult. The numerous ritual libations are at the origin of this crusty patina characteristic of the Fon ethnic group. The multitude of Fon gods (the vodun), similar to those of the Yoruba under different names, is represented by fetishes of all shapes and all kinds. Their shrines are found in Togo, Dahomey, and western Nigeria. Statuettes embodying the legba, protectors of the home, are often attached to them. The faithful administer daily offerings and libations to them, supposedly to activate their power. The Fon are currently found in a part of the Republic of Benin called the Kingdom of ...


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