Standing male power figure (nkishi)

Songye peoples
19th–20th century
more object details

General Description

Instead of a medicine-filled horn projecting from the top of its head, this nkisi—or power figure—displays an iron blade, the significance of which is not precisely known. It may be a reference to blacksmiths, culture heroes who are believed to have mystical knowledge and who carved such objects. Cavities are filled with consecrated substances and sealed with "brass" studs. This nkisi is uniquely decorated with human teeth, which may be a reference to white, a color associated with the land of the dead and healing.

Drawn from

  • Dr. Roslyn A. Walker, Label text, Arts of Africa, 2015.
  • Roslyn Walker, The Arts of Africa at the Dallas Museum of Art (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009), 164-165.