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15 Items in this Learning Collection
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Copyright
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Power figure (nkisi)

Accession Number
1997/1.346

Title
Power figure (nkisi)

Artist(s)
Yaka

Artist Nationality
Yaka (Kwango-Kwilu region style)

Object Creation Date
20th century

Medium & Support
wood with traces of pigment, animal horn and string

Dimensions
20 7/8 in x 3 7/16 in x 4 15/16 in (53 cm x 8.7 cm x 12.5 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Dr. James and Vivian Curtis

Label copy
(African Art and the Shape of Time; August 18, 2012-February 3, 2013)
14. Power figure (nkisi)
Yaka peoples, probably late 19th–early 20th century, wood, pigment, animal horn, string, University of Michigan Museum of Art, Gift of Dr. James and Vivian Curtis, 1997/1.346
This striking assemblage is an nkisi, a container for spiritual forces made potent by an nganga (religious expert), allowing it to act on behalf of people in the material world. Its main component is a bushbuck horn, which may be understood metaphorically as a spiral through time, its twists and curves alluding to an nkisi’s ability to rupture the symmetry between this world and the spirit world to let powerful forces manipulate the normal order of space and time.

Subject matter
Nkisi is a generic term for a class of power objects. These objects are employed as solutions to social and physical problems. They are ritually charged objects, able to facilitate movement of spirits between differnet points of existence.

Physical Description
Carved wooden human figure attached to an animal's horn. A plug or mushroom shaped projection extends from the human figure's head.

Primary Object Classification
Decorative Arts

Collection Area
African

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

Keywords
Figures
horn

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved