Power Figure (nkisi kozo)

Small wooden animal, possibly a dog or warthog, stands with medicinal pack and mirror embedded into its back; face has long sneering mouth and snout, bearing teeth. short pointed ears; tail curls at end. Two “guns” or pointy projections would have come out above the dog’s front legs, but they have broken off.
Artist Unknown, African, Vili Peoples, Congo Republic
Ritual specialists called banganga (plural of nganga) use minkisi (plural of nkisi) as divination tools. With the help of incantations, whistle sounds, claps, and other interactive gestures, ritual practitioners call ancestral spirits from the underworld to inhabit sculptures like this one as a means of resolving social, political, or personal problems, which befall communities or individuals. Kozo animals can see at night and as such are said to have four eyes. They are especially successful at identifying, capturing, and redressing malevolent forces.
Gift of Candis and Helmut Stern
Tuesday, May 26, 2020