Nkisi Nkondi Mother and Child Figure (The Wife of Mabyaala)

An elegantly carved, standing female figure carries a child on her sinister left hip to show that she is a proudly married woman. The cavity in the abdomen once housed a fetish pack of medicines, or fetish material. Both mother and child are depicted with very elaborate coiffures; the mother’s hairstyle is a conical bundle with a flat top, and the child’s hairstyle is a conical bundle with a pointed top.

This figure is very similar to the two known figures both in the Leiden Museum collection in the Netherlands. At the end of the 19th century, the Mabyaala was best known as a retributive minkisi, an object inhabited by spirits used to control crime and sanction commercial relations.

Provenance: Ex-Belgium collection of Patrick Dierickx

Circa 1930s
Wood with a reddish-rust colored pigmentation, black dye pigment
25 x 10 x 7 in
64 x 25 x 18 cm
Kongo peoples; Region of Cabinda, of what is now the area of Pointe Noire in the Congo to Boma in the estuary of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central Africa