Lot: 89

Kneeling figure "pomdo" or "nomoli"

Sierra Leone, Kissi

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
Gerhard Mennen & Nancy Williams, Michigan, USA
Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan, USA (Accession no. "66.447")

Williams built his collection of West African art while serving as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs during the 1960s. He donated a part of his collection to The Detroit Institute of Arts in about 1968.
H: 11.4 inch 5000 EUR / 10000 EUR

soapstone, The Kissi call these figures "pomdo" - "the dead" or "images of the dead". The identity of the specific ancestor is revealed in a dream and the figure receives sacrifices, offerings and is placed with others on an altar. Some figures may be used in divination, oath taking or protection of initiates. But the figures are also placed in the fields in order to ensure a good harvest and sufficient food. These stone figures were not made by the Kissi themselves, but were accidentally brought to light during field work. They are the only known remains of an empire that existed hundreds of years ago in present-day Sierra Leone and Liberia.