Whistle (nsiba)

Two components make up this vertical whistle. The superstructure is a wooden carving of two birds that face each other, bellies touching, with a small round object between them, so that each is holding it in their beaks. The birds' talons clutch the base of the sculpture. The base has a hole in the center into which the antelope horn is pegged.
Artist Unknown, African, Vili Peoples, Congo Republic
1925-1975
The sculpture atop the horn illustrates a Vili proverb warning about the complications that stem from fighting over the same woman. Ritual specialists often doubled as judges in time of moral and social instability. People facing seemingly irreconcilable problems consulted experts to get to the root of the problem. Banganga or professional practitioners used objects like this whistle to awaken ancestral forces lying latent in nearby minkisi sculptures.
Gift of Candis and Helmut Stern
2005/1.181
Tuesday, May 26, 2020