Power Figure

Accession Number

Power Figure

Vili (Kongo)

Artist Nationality

Object Creation Date
circa 1850

Medium & Support
wood, woven cotton fiber, glass, split cane, elephant hair, metal, and resin

9 3/16 in x 3 7/8 in x 3 5/8 in (23.3 cm x 9.8 cm x 9.2 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Candis and Helmut Stern

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 different points of existence. This figure's crossed legs and arm positioning (one up, one down) signify the ability to connect different points. It represents the thinker, an ancestor who guards and protects the lives of his descendants. 

Physical Description
Carved wooden figure of a human. The umbilicus protrudes and is concave, which would have held magical/medicinal substances. The figure is posed with crossed legs and one hand supporting the head. The face is detailed, with glass eyes. A metal ring was placed around the neck of the figure. The top of the head is empty, but possibly contained magical substances as well. 

Primary Object Classification
Ritual Object

Primary Object Type

Collection Area

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