Male Figure

Male Figure

late 1800s-early 1900s

Wood, mirror, iron, mud, ivory or plastic

Overall: 46 x 25.7 x 19.2 cm (18 1/8 x 10 1/8 x 7 9/16 in.)

René and Odette Delenne Collection, Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 2010.432

Fun Fact

Each nail represents the number of times the figurine was brought to the ritual specialist (nganga).


This nkisi figure once held a spear in its raised arm. Each iron nail, screw, and wedge represents a resolved dispute between citizens. The action of driving iron objects into the nkisi was intended to arouse it, enabling it to see the intentions of the defendant's enemy. The stomach cavity would have contained the medicinal substances that gave the sculpture particular powers.

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