On offer from our private collection is this magnificent nkondi nail fetish figure from the Bakongo peoples of the DR Congo. A very special piece...
Such sculptures are used within the tribal community as forces of protection, & for coping with various problems. The local diviners add special objects to the figures, such as nails, mirrors, beads, feathers, & horns. Imbued with magical properties, these adornments enhance the available power of the statues. Those bearing protruding nails &/or blades are regarded as the most powerful of these figures. And as each successive object is driven into its body, the figure gains additional strength.
Over the years, we've been fortunate to acquire a number of nkondi, & have sold a few, as well... But this extraordinary sculpture is the finest nail fetish we've ever come across. Exhibiting hermaphroditic traits, strategically placed are a large female breast-shaped shell, positioned in the upper right of the chest; & a male phallus-shaped piece of carved bone protrudes from the lower torso of the figure. Carved & deep-set penetrating eyes are highlighted by pigments, & nicely sculpted lips bare filed teeth & a tongue that's sticking out. The head is crowned with a topknot, & the figure's right arm is raised aggressively.
Lavishly laden with hardware & other embellishments, this is a very heavy piece, weighing nearly 14-lbs. Magical objects & substances cover nearly the entire surface of the piece. The torso is imbedded with a maze of hundreds of nails of various shapes & sizes. Ribbon-like strips of animal hide still with hair attached, rope, & twisted fibers are threaded throughout the complex labyrinth of nails. A collar of mud- or clay-encrusted rolled fabric is wrapped around the figure's neck, while another large swath of rolled fabric is worn around the lower torso. Inset in the abdomen is a piece of mirror-like glass, intended to obscure a filled cavity while repelling evil spirits.
Despite some imperfections in the wood, this phenomenal piece is in very good overall condition. Commensurate with age & wear, there are scrapes & abrasions; a few old dry age-cracks & chips (including an old chip to the back left corner of the base); some of the thin layer of crust on the head has flaked off; & there is evidence of old insect damage (arrested).
With its richly encrusted patina, this powerful sculpture shows significant age- & use-related wear. Museum & gallery worthy, this would make an exceptional acquisition for any serious collection. Rife with raw, primal energy & spirit, the statue makes a dramatic statement & an absolutely stunning display!