Male Figure (nkisi)

Male Figure (nkisi)

late 1800s-early 1900s

Wood, organic material (including resin), metalized glass, and cloth

Overall: 17 x 5.3 x 7 cm (6 11/16 x 2 1/16 x 2 3/4 in.)

René and Odette Delenne Collection, Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 2010.434

Did you know?

The medicinal substances remain intact in this particular figure, which is rare, as most were decommissioned before museum acquisition.


Nkisi is often associated with the word spirit, as these figures are believed to host a variety ancestral spirits. With an intact mirror-covered stomach cavity, this figure was not decommissioned before sale or disposal, deeming its particular powers sustained. The cloth knots and carvings suggest that it was used to bind agreements or oaths, and to reconcile social and cosmological contradictions.

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