University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

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Nail Figures from Zaire [Object of the Day #11]

Nail Figures

By: Amy Ellsworth

Meet the Nkisi N’kondi nail figures from the lower Zaire River region (Kongo). These 19th century figures, studded with nails, are used by Kongo individuals who are looking for justice, for solutions to particular problems, or for protection against malevolent forces. By promising something to the figure a client ensures the assistance of the supernatural […]

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Kongo Nail Figures

By: Amy Ellsworth

19th Century Nail Figures from Zaire. Nkisi N’kondi, Nail Figures, Lower Zaire River Region, Zaire (Kongo), 19th century. Penn Museum Object #s 30-46-2, AF 5361, AF 3684. Meet the Nkisi Nkondi. These sacred items were carved by the people of the Congo, and used for protecting the village, fighting evil spirits, settling disputes, and sealing agreements. […]

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Magic in the Ancient World

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