The Kongo people believe there are innumerable
spirits which dwell in nature. Occasionally one
inhabits a human being and that person falls ill.
A sorcerer/healer is then consulted. He
determines the nature of the malady, the
particular spirit causing the illness and what type
of nkisi should be made. It is hoped the spirit
will be tempted to leave the patient and dwell
within the nkisi. These remarkable statues are
also used as protection and for oath-taking.
When one is in use, nails or blades are driven
into it to activate its spiritual energy.
The nkisis are also referred to as "power figures",
and seeing this magnificent statue we can easily
understand why. The sheer enormity of its
presence is quite breathtaking. The countless
nails and other items attest to its having been
used as a reliable and respected figure. Its
power is absolutely physical, captivating one
immediately with its almost supernatural
character. The protrusion from its lower
abdomen is a receptacle containing leafs, shells,
and sachets sealed with a mirror. This is where
the spirit dwells. Though an object such as a
nkisi is very alien to Western culture, we can feel
its authority and intensity, which may literally be
from beyond the physical world.