Title:Power figureArtist:KongoDate:early 20th centuryCreation Place:Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central Africa region, Credit Line:The Christina N. and Swan J. Turnblad Memorial FundAccession Number:71.3
Even though this figure is in the shape of a human being, it does not represent a man with nails in his body and should not conjure up images of punishment or torture. To its Kongo makers and users, the object was a container for a specific spirit. Its aggressive pose and the raised arm that once held a wooden spear suggests its power to ward off evil and hunt down wrongdoers. After the sculptor had carved the object, a ritual specialist would empower it by adding substances including medicinal plants, earth from tombs, and pieces of metal. These substances are hidden in the figure's head and collar and on its abdomen. In the course of its usage, nails and metal blades were added in order to energize the power figure, reminding its spirit of specific vows and oaths.