Figure (kiteki)

Figure (kiteki)

late 1800s-mid 1900s

Wood, lizard skin, leopard tooth, pods, cloth, and natural fiber

Overall: 23 cm (9 1/16 in.)

Gift of Katherine C. White 1974.201


Biteki is the generic name for Yaka figures used as containers for magical ingredients. After being charged by a ritual specialist, they become minkisi, or power objects, and gain the power to either cure or harm. This example, with various leadership accoutrements, likely belongs to the category called phuungu. Placed inside a house, the statuette would have protected against witches and other evil.

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