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

Songye Fetish (N° 14827)

Grenin sly- grimacing and half-closed gaze encrusted with cauris agree to give this nkishi a menacing appearance. The brass nails, inserted on the face of this sculpture of African art, would evoke smallpox. The Maniema region was hit hard by epidemics and in African culture, metal has magical, therapeutic and apotropaic properties. Ritual ingredients were also introduced into the abdomen (bishimba) into the horn when present. Textiles, feathers and necklaces were also necessary attributes to guard against witchcraft. The ventral load was taken from this subject. The ear holes also bear witness to loops, usually made of metal, which are now absent. The skull is draped in a beanie of animal skin, and a skirt of the same parched material, on which remain hairs, rises in the back of the fetish where the puddings wrapped in saurian skin come to knot. The appearance above the long ringed neck is reminiscent of the ethnic u-0022kifwebeU mask. Degraded base on a pedestal.
The fetish Songye , magical sculpture Nkisi , nkishi (pl. mankishi ), plays the role of mediator between gods and men. Large copies are the collective property of 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 Kasai, Katanga and South Kivu. Their society is organized in a patriarchal way. Their history is inseparable from that of the Luba to whom they are related through common ancestors. Very present in their society, divination allowed to discover the sorcerers and to shed light on the causes of the misfortunes that struck individuals.
Litt.: "The Sensitive and the Force" ed. Royal Museum of Central Africa  

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Originex-collection Demanche
Material(s)wood, peau animale, plant fibre, metal, cauris
Height cm75
Width13 cm
Weight2.55 Kg
Estimated dating2ème halfxx°
Socle includedYes

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