Authentic Bakongo fetishes are very rare. Despite its appearance, this fetish figure shows no evidence of age or use and was probably made to be sold.
Photographs © Tim Hamill
BAKONGO, , NKONDI FETISH FIGURE 65, 27.5", $600,
Fetishes were protective figures used by individuals, families, or whole communities to destroy or weaken evil spirits, prevent or cure illnesses, repel bad deeds, solemnize contracts or oath-taking, and decide arguments. A diviner or holy person would activate the statue, using magical substances. Fetishes gained power and were effective because people believed in them.
Small Nkondi figures were family owned and were used to protect the home, larger ones would protect an entire village. Covered with bags of magical herbs and studded with blades and nails, which, when driven in, activated its spiritual power. The mirror on the abdomen covers a filled cavity and reflected back evil spirits.
Old Bakongo fetishes are very rare. Despite its appearance, this fetish figure shows no evidence of age or use and was probably made to be sold.
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