A nkisi nkondi can act as an oath taking symbol which is used to resolve verbal disputes or lawsuits (mambu) as well as an avenger (the term nkondi means ‘hunter’) or guardian if sorcery or any form of evil has been committed. These are wooden figures carved under the divine authority and in consultation with an nganga or spiritual specialist who activates these figures through chants, prayers and the preparation of sacred substances which are aimed at ‘curing’ physical, social or spiritual ailments and are sometimes concealed within the abdomen. Each individual insertion of a nail represents one of three things: an oath or agreement between two parties, a pledge to provide protection against enemies and witchcraft, or a vow of vengeance.
This piece came to me via an art collector in Ghana. #art