Lot: 350

Kneeling female figure "nkisi / nkishi"

D. R. Congo, Vili

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
Loudmer, Paris, "Arts Primitifs", 9 December 1989, Lot 193
Paolo Morigi (1939-2017), Magliaso-Lugano, Switzerland
Olivier Larroque, Nimes, France (ca. 2016)
Mark Eglinton, New York, USA (#4614)
H: 11.6 inch 10000 EUR / 20000 EUR

wood, porcelain, glass, resin, plant materials, old place of repair (base plate), pedestal This beautiful figure, richly carved with neck and arm rings, carries a calabash in her right hand. Its magical charge is visible through the glass that closes the container at the belly. A figure by the same hand, whose date of origin is estimated to be the end of the 19th century, was auctioned on 5 July 2008 as lot 430 at Zemanek-Münster (see AHDRC 0017880). The Vili ethnic group living in the Zaire estuary used to be part of the old Congo Kingdom as the Principality of Loango. The phenomenon of making and using figurative "minkisi", has been common throughout the Congo region for centuries. Reports on this can already be found in Olfert Dapper's work from the 17th century. A "nkisi" object is a container for medicines "bilongo", which are supposed to achieve a certain effect with the help of invisible forces from the world beyond. The field of application was varied, ranging from ill health, to the punishment of criminals, to the installation of chiefs or the protection of trade caravans. The ingredients were put together by an expert medicine man "nganga" according to the respective requirements. The procedure could last for days and weeks and involved the performance of certain ceremonies and chants, as well as a great feast.


Deimel, Claus & Christine Seige (Hg.), Minkisi, Berlin, München 2012, p. 27 ff.

ADHRC: 0017871