Male Figurine, late 1800s-early 1900s. This human-shaped nkisi in Yombe style—one of the most typical forms a spirit container can take among Kongo speakers in west-central Africa—features an enormous mirror-covered package on its stomach that is remarkably intact, meaning that the figure was not decommissioned before sale or disposal. The cloth bands and knots looped around its neck and down its back and fixed around its legs suggest that it was used to bind agreements or oaths. Most intriguing is the carving of a pangolin or scaly anteater atop the head, which represents lead

- Image ID: 2A51GP1
Male Figurine, late 1800s-early 1900s. This human-shaped  nkisi  in Yombe style—one of the most typical forms a spirit container can take among Kongo speakers in west-central Africa—features an enormous mirror-covered package on its stomach that is remarkably intact, meaning that the figure was not decommissioned before sale or disposal. The cloth bands and knots looped around its neck and down its back and fixed around its legs suggest that it was used to bind agreements or oaths. Most intriguing is the carving of a pangolin or scaly anteater atop the head, which represents lead Stock Photo
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Male Figurine, late 1800s-early 1900s. This human-shaped nkisi in Yombe style—one of the most typical forms a spirit container can take among Kongo speakers in west-central Africa—features an enormous mirror-covered package on its stomach that is remarkably intact, meaning that the figure was not decommissioned before sale or disposal. The cloth bands and knots looped around its neck and down its back and fixed around its legs suggest that it was used to bind agreements or oaths. Most intriguing is the carving of a pangolin or scaly anteater atop the head, which represents lead
Heritage Image Partnership Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo
Image ID: 2A51GP1
Male Figurine, late 1800s-early 1900s. This human-shaped nkisi in Yombe style—one of the most typical forms a spirit container can take among Kongo speakers in west-central Africa—features an enormous mirror-covered package on its stomach that is remarkably intact, meaning that the figure was not decommissioned before sale or disposal. The cloth bands and knots looped around its neck and down its back and fixed around its legs suggest that it was used to bind agreements or oaths. Most intriguing is the carving of a pangolin or scaly anteater atop the head, which represents leadership and the ability to reconcile social and cosmological contradictions; thus, the figure symbolized mediation of the spirit world and power.