African art > The fetish, this emblematic object of primitive art > Kongo Fetish
Kongo Fetish (N° 18895)
Consecrated by the nganga, endowed with magical charges (bilongo) ventral and dorsal, with therapeutic aim, this statuette meets the criteria of the nksi objects. The Vili produced a variety of sculptures for individual use nkisi , to which multiple virtues were attributed. The glazed eyes, encircled with resin, symbolize clairvoyance in a face with naturalistic features.
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The Vili, the Lâri, the Sûndi, the Woyo, the Bembé, the Bwende, the Yombé and the Kôngo formed the group Kôngo, led by the king Ntotela. Their kingdom reached its apogee in the 16th century with the trade of ivory, copper and slaves. With the same beliefs and traditions, they produced a statuary with codified gestures related to their vision of the world.
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 mostly urbanized, they still integrate traditional associations, depending on the cult of ancestors such as the Mbouiti or the Bieri.
The nganga sorcerers, who were both healers, were in charge of religious activities and mediation towards the God called Nzambi through consecrated figures. To this end, individual protective figures nkisis, to protect themselves from witchcraft and various plagues, were made and charged by the nganga with all the necessary ingredients to achieve this goal.
Litt. "The Kongo gesture" ed. Dapper Museum.