Nail-studded figure, Democratic Republic of Congo, 1880-1920
This statuette is known as an nkisi figure. Nkisi is the name given by ethnic groups living in the Democratic Republic of Congo to extremely powerful collections of materials that are placed in containers known as futu. By pounding metal objects into the figure’s wooden surface, the nkisi is used to direct a spirit toward a specific task: to protect, heal or destroy.
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A sculpture in the round representing human or animal figures or small figure groups; a statuette is a smaller sculpture.