Kongo-Yombe Power Figure, Democratic Republic of the Congo

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Lot 230
Kongo-Yombe Power Figure, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Sold for US$ 325,075 inc. premium
Kongo-Yombe Power Figure, Democratic Republic of the Congo
nkisi n'kondi
height 36in (91.4cm)

Provenance
Allan Stone, New York
Previous provenance presumably:
Ralph Nash, London
Merton D. Simpson, New York, sold to Allan Stone on October 10, 1967

Exhibited
The Bruce Museum, Greenwich, Connecticut, Power Incarnate: Allan Stone's Collection of Sculpture from the Congo, 14 May - 4 September 2011
S2 Gallery, Sotheby's New York, Hunters and Gatherers: The Art of Assemblage, 18 November - 16 December 2011

Published
Dumouchelle, Kevin D., Power Incarnate: Allan Stone's Collection of Sculpture from the Congo, Greenwich, Connecticut, 2011, p. 25, cat. 1

Wyatt MacGaffey notes, "The most powerful, most spectacular and now (in the art world) the best-known Kongo minkisi belonged to the class called nkondi, a name which means 'hunter.' The business of the nkondi was to identify and hunt down unknown wrong-doers, such as thieves and those who were believed to have caused sickness and death among their neighbours by occult means; nkondi could punish those who swore false oaths and villages that broke treaties entered into under their supervision.[...]

[...] To provoke nkondi, gunpowder might be exploded in front of the container, insults might be hurled at it, but above all, in the case of a wooden figure, nails, blades and other hardware were driven into it. Angered by these injuries, nkondi would mysteriously fly to the attack, inflicting on the wrong-doer similar harm. A few days later, if anyone in the village were to fall ill with pains in his chest, it would be said that the nkondi had found him out and punished him. [...] As time passed, the nkisi visibly accumulated the evidence of successful cursing, adding greatly to its fearsome appearance." (Phillips, Tom, ed., Africa - The Art of a Continent, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1995, p. 246)

This superb Kongo power figure exhibits the appropriate aggressive features necessary to identify and hunt down wrong-doers including the staring eyes (the right still with remnants of glass to make them more vivid); the gaping mouth with projected tongue; the upward and out-thrust chin; deliberately massive shoulders and modeling of the neck to intensify the sense of energy and power; the right arm raised up with hand in position to hold the spear he would have been holding; the enlarged phallus; and further charged with a power device filled with medicines centered on the abdomen with four ghastly boar's tusks inserted and pointed in four directions.
Contacts
Kongo-Yombe Power Figure, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Kongo-Yombe Power Figure, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Kongo-Yombe Power Figure, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Kongo-Yombe Power Figure, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Kongo-Yombe Power Figure, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Kongo-Yombe Power Figure, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Kongo-Yombe Power Figure, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Kongo-Yombe Power Figure, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Kongo-Yombe Power Figure, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Kongo-Yombe Power Figure, Democratic Republic of the Congo
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