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Nail Figure?

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Wooden Folk Art Objects59 of 680Carved Treenware on Three Long LegsOld African Art Table
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Posted 1 year ago

(4 items)

This little guy stands between 18-24 inches tall not including feathers. He has pieces of glass or mirror for eyes and there is a glass circle in his belly with something inside.
I'm only posting one picture cause I can't seem to get all four to download so I'm trying just one.
So is it real or not? I have a bet with a friend I say no, he said yes!!
And I am putting it in the Folk Art Category cause there is no African Categories!

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  1. shareurpassion shareurpassion, 1 year ago
    I'd hate to be the person this was made for!!! Looks like someone is pretty mad at the other!!! VooDoo Doll...I dunno!!!
  2. Marta, 1 year ago
    Hahahaha!!! True!
  3. CanyonRoad, 1 year ago
    This is a nkisi nkondi, sometimes translated as a "power figure," a traditional part of the Kongo culture.

    Whether or not this particular piece is "real," depends on how you define that. Was it actually culturally-used? Probably not. There are so many of them available in the marketplace, that it is highly unlikely it was. They are made for sale to collectors, as well as for cultural use.

    But is it an authentic form, most likely made by a person who has had experience and knowledge of the use of Nkisi nkondi, a tradition that is documented as far back as early European contact in the 15th century, yes.

    It is not connected with voodoo, other than both having roots in African cultures. A nkisi nkondi can be considered a container for spirits, and a means of communication with them. The nails and other items inserted into it are confirmation of vows and actions taken, and efforts resolve cultural and social issues with the help of those spirits.

    So even if this is only a copy made for sale, it still represents a unique and interesting cultural practice and belief system.
  4. Marta, 1 year ago
    Hi! Thank you for all the great information.
    I really appreciate it.

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