|Type of Object||
|Country of Origin||
DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo – formerly Zaire)
glass, Metal, Pigment, Rope, Seeds, Vegetable fiber, Wicker
About the Bakongo People
Bakongo people are a matriarchal society who values their independence. They are the largest tribe in the Democratic Republic of Congo and have considerable populations in neighboring countries as well. The total population of the tribe was last estimated to be around 18 million world wide.
With such a vast population of people, their belief system is almost as so. For the most part, the majority of Bakongo people believe in a creator god and deities. When the Portuguese inserted themselves in the area in the 15the century, they used that belief system to convince the Bakongo that Christianity was the same thing. Missionaries would twist Bakongo language to push Christianity among the people, they would take words such as “nkisi” to mean “holy” as they were teaching their religion. Today, a mixture of traditional religion and Christianity is practiced. Both churches and shrines have been maintained.
Read more about the Bakongo here.
About the Nkisi Nkondi Figure
The Bakongo people have created figures referred to as nkisi nkondi. These figures come in many shapes, sizes and forms. Nkondi is derived from the word konda which means to hunt, and are the most powerful form of nkisi. Nkisi are spirits; an object can become nkisi if it is resided by a spirit and filled with medicines. Therefore, nkisi nkondi is a spirit, inside of a hunter figure, and is imbued with sacred elements. Nails are often pounded into the figure in order to activate and provoke the lifeforce. These figures are used by the owner or a specialist, known as the Nganga, to communicate with ancestors to eradicate evil and punish wrong-doers. They are also used in divination practices to help heal the sick and to track down witches and sorcerers.