Nkisi reliquary sculpture, Becongo group

Unknown author20th century (?)

Museum of Ethnology & Museum of Popular Art

Museum of Ethnology & Museum of Popular Art
Lisboa, Portugal

"Nkisi", a wooden reliquary sculpture used as a receptacle of magical or religious forces, manipulated through sculpture by Nganga, or priest, among the Bacongo group (Cabinda, Angola).

The sculpture depicts a kneeling human figure, provided with three reliquary cavities one on the abdomen, the other on the back and on the top of the head, each with a mirror encased in inlaid white beads.

Each half of the body is covered by a paste of ritual clay, white to the right, and red to the left. On the chest, a metal peg has been inserted on the site of the heart.


  • Title: Nkisi reliquary sculpture, Becongo group
  • Creator: Unknown author
  • Date Created: 20th century (?)
  • Location Created: Cabinda, Angola.
  • Physical Dimensions: 18 cm
  • Type: Sculpture
  • Rights: Collection: National Museum of Ethnology. Image: DGPC/ADF
  • Medium: Wood, glass, metal, cloth, beads, organic substances
  • Catalog number: MNE: AB.043

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