Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Power Figure: Male (Nkisi Nkondi)

19th–20th century
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Kongo peoples
Wood, mirror, cloth, paint, pigment
H x W x D: 24 x 9 5/8 x 7 3/4in. (61 x 24.5 x 19.7cm)
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979
Accession Number:
Not on view
This work was the product of a collaboration between a sculptor and the initiated priest "nganga," who controlled its use in his professional practice. After an artist completed carving the artifact, the "nganga" transformed it into an object capable of healing illness, settling disputes, safeguarding the peace, and punishing wrongdoers. Each work of this kind or "nkisi" is associated with a spirit, that is subjected to a degree of human control. The term "nkisi" may relate to a wide spectrum of physical receptacles, including cloth packets, filled vessels, as well as the carved wood sculptures studied by art historians.
(Parke-Bernet Gallery, New York, April 18, 1951, no. 215); Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1951, on loan to The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1956–1978

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