Power Figure (Nkishi)
Arts of Africa
On View: African Storage Annex, East Gallery, 1st Floor
This figure’s protruding abdomen allowed room for the insertion of various medicines by an nganga (ritual specialist) to activate the spirit force reached through the figure. These ingredients were sealed in a cavity behind the tack at the navel. The figure’s oily surface is probably the result of rubbing with palm oil or fat obtained from crushed termite queens.
Wood, metal, organic materials
late 19th or early 20th century
Gift of Arturo and Paul Peralta-Ramos
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Songye. Power Figure (Nkishi), late 19th or early 20th century. Wood, metal, organic materials, 8 1/2 x 2 1/4 in. (21.7 x 6.0 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Arturo and Paul Peralta-Ramos, 56.6.43. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 56.6.43_front_PS6.jpg)
front, 56.6.43_front_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2011
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Full wooden figure. Large head, protruding chin, hair dress, protruding stomach. Short legs, wide rounded feet on rounded base. Metal knob in head, nail in stomach. CONDITION: Fair, oily.
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