Figure (nkishi)

Figure (nkishi)

late 1800s-early 1900s

Wood, organic materials (including resin and soil), plant fiber, and glass beads

Overall: 22.4 x 10.7 x 12.4 cm (8 13/16 x 4 3/16 x 4 7/8 in.)

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alvin N. Haas 1974.212


The substances contained in its cloth-covered cranial cavity indicate that this half-figure belongs to the broad category of charms or "power objects" that the Luba call mankishi. It was used by a ritual expert and functioned in a variety of rituals dealing with healing, protection, divination, or jurisdiction. Often such power figures were carved by the ritual experts rather than by professional artists.

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