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Songye Female Power Figure (Nkishi)

21 3/4" high

Circa 19th Century

Songye, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Africa

Wood, Metal, Animal Horn, Shells

A standing female power figure (nkishi) with a horn protruding from the center of the head and brass applied throughout the facial area. The figure has oval-shaped eyes, a blunt, flattened nose and curved mouth. The neck is cylindrical, the shoulders rounded and the arms long and bent. The hands are broad and embrace a bulbous abdomen encircled by a string of beads. The knees are bent and end in broad feet which stem from a globular base.

Larger nkishi figures may protect the entire community and mediate between humans and spirits to cure ailments. Many believe that these figures also provide fertility and good fortune. When not in use, the figure is placed in a sanctuary under the care of a guardian.


power figure, Nkishi, Nkisi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, African art, African artifacts, African sculpture


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