Thursday, 22 March 2012

Nkondi

     One of my earliest memories was looking at copies of old National Geographics.
My parents always had lots of old issues, and I poured over them continuously. I loved the illustrations and recreations/cutaways of ships, spaceships, turbines etc... but what I really loved was the photography. (My little brother's dream as a child was being a photographer for NG)

    I remember an issue about the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and a feature on the witchdoctors and their fetish figures... Nkondi.
   These amazing carved figures were pierced with nails or blades to incite magical retribution against wrongdoers, evil spirits, and malcontents.
  I used to make my own ones out of balsa wood!

    I collect a lot of stuff, old religious figures, broken taxidermy, robots, etc... and spend my occasional spare day off trawling Antique markets, and to my delight, I found a pair of Nkonde figures recently.
The big one still has the mirror in his chest cavity, to deflect evil. He has glass eyes, and nails driven into the top of his head and bound with magic herbs.

I love the artistry of them, but also the brutal nature of the magic invoked. Things like this are a real inspiration to me.