Yaka Nkisi Figure


Nkisi Figure from the Yaka people of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Kwango River area in southwest Democratic Republic of Congo is the home of the Yaka people. The Yaka are well known for their elaborate masks and carvings and for the aesthetic touch they give to many everyday objects such as stools, combs, pipes, headrests and musical instruments.

Figures such as this one are generally known amongst several of the Congo peoples as nkisi. These statues would belong to the village diviner who would place magical ingredients into the small hole in the figure’s abdomen. A special ceremony would then be held to ‘activate’ the ingredients and give power to the nkisi. The figure would then be used to protect the village from misfortune or illness and to ensure a good harvest and successful hunts. (Yaka hunters perform a specific ritual under the direction of the village chief or “master of the earth” to guarantee that they procure food for the community.)

Many Yaka statues and masks feature a long, exaggerated upward-hooked nose. This is a strange but common detail for which there is no decisive explanation; one source supposes that it is an allusion to the elephant’s trunk. The white face of the figure symbolises that the diviner and his nkisi are in communion with the tribe’s ancestors

Size: 430mm x 100mm x 100mm


1 in stock

Additional information

Weight 1.5 kg
Dimensions 10 × 10 × 43 cm

430MM x 100MM x 100MM


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