Primary Source

Power Figure: Male (Nkisi)

  • Wooden male figure decorated with pigment, nails, cloth, beads, shells, arrows, leather, nuts, twine


While this particular piece was created in the 19th century, it represents a traditional depiction of values of the Kongo peoples. The Kongo believe that the great god, Ne Kongo, brought the first sacred medicine (or nkisi) down from heaven in an earthenware vessel and placed it upon three stones or termite mounds. In the traditional belief, it was used to demonstrate protection from spirits, as well as the importance of taking agreements seriously that humans themselves made so that in this context as when that is not done, the person is no longer protected by traditional gods.

Power Figure: Male (Nkisi), Metropolitan Museum of Art


The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979

How to Cite This Source
Power Figure: Male (Nkisi) in World History Commons,