African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Kongo statue
Female figure Kongo Nkisi (N° 19059)
Among the Kongo, the nganga took care of the rituals by activating a spiritual force with a nkondi (pl. nkissi). The term nkisi was then used to designate the notions of "sacred" or "divine". The most influential category of "minkisi kongo" consisted of instruments designed to help regional chiefs enforce the law. A metal object was nailed to a wooden figure as soon as a decision was made, each nail evoking a particular case: parties in dispute, divorce, conflicts between communities, etc. The nkondi wanted to ensure that the agreement to resolve the conflict was enforced and that individuals feared the consequences of their behavior. Its appearance thus personified the force residing there. From the second half of the twentieth century, minkisi minkondi were strategically placed along the coasts of the Loango kingdom to protect against European incursions. Among the most powerful, the Mangaaka was considered the "king" and "master", supreme arbiter of conflicts and protector of communities, and became the most ambitious and monumental sculptural genre.
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The elements supposed to confer additional powers to this sculpture attest to the agreements made and exacerbate its mystical force. Raffia and textile cords adorn the necks, and a loincloth of animal skin encircles the female figure symbolizing the mythical ancestor. Eroded wood, crusty patina, residues of white clay.
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|Country||rdc ex zaire|
|Material(s)||wood, metal, textile, plant fibre|
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