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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Nkondi (figurated medicine) of a woman with child


Nkondi (figurated medicine) of a woman with child

"Nkondi is a like a diploma given to nganga, a specialist who deals with social issues. He can be seen as a therapist who is invited-in a village, in the community circle-to deal with any issue that is a problem. Before they start discussing the matter, he has to put before him his nkondi to assure the village that he is qualified to discuss the mambo. The word mambo is what became 'mumbo jumbo' in the west. Without this object, the community won't accept him as trained or qualified.

"Nkondi is only seen when the nganga is invited. It always comes out in the circle when there is a problem. This healer, the nganga, stands on the ground because all our medicines come from the ground. For the Kongo, trees are the first "pipes" through which all medicines come through the ground floor to human beings. For the Kongo, no matter how big or small the plant is, it draws forth from the ground a specific substance. We need to know what medicine it brings us, because by destroying some of those plants, we are preventing ourselves from receiving many powerful medicines." (Fu Kiau Bunseki, 2001)

Wood, glass, metal
4 7/8 x 2 3/8 x 2 5/16 in. (12.4 x 6.1 x 5.8 cm)
Nasli and Alice Heeramaneck Collection
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistorySan Francisco, California, M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, Kongo Power Figures, November 15, 1989 - January 21, 1990.

Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are on the traditional homelands of the Duwamish and the customary territories of the Suquamish and Muckleshoot Peoples. As a cultural and educational institution, we honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future. We also acknowledge the urban Native peoples from many Nations who call Seattle their home.