Male Figure (nkisi)

Male Figure (nkisi)

late 1800s-early 1900s

Wood, cloth, resin, organic material, feathers, natural fibers, antelope horn, seashells (including cowrie shells), glass beads, metalized glass, and plant fiber

Overall: 42 x 11.8 x 23 cm (16 9/16 x 4 5/8 x 9 1/16 in.)

René and Odette Delenne Collection, Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 2010.433

Did you know?

Different from other figures functioning as defense against witches or misfortune, its “night guns,” or nduda, are missing.


Nkisi is an object that is believed to host an ancestral spirit. Unusual from other figures, this Nkisi figure is missing its nduda, “night guns.” These guns would be filled with gunpowder functioning as defense against witches or misfortune. Unless its guns were lost during the course of its life history, this nkisi may instead be an example of a more general type called mpanzu, whose functions included protection.

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