Whistle (nsiba)

Artist Unknown, African, Vili Peoples Congo Republic1925/1975

University of Michigan Museum of Art

University of Michigan Museum of Art


  • Title: Whistle (nsiba)
  • Creator: Artist Unknown, African, Vili Peoples Congo Republic
  • Date Created: 1925/1975
  • Location: Congo Republic, Africa
  • Physical Dimensions: w4.7 x h21.5 x d4.7 mm (work)
  • Label Copy: This delicate antelope horn whistle manifests a rich network of meanings and associations. It is adorned by a small, removable sculpture that alludes to the Vili saying, “Two royal eagles fight over a peanut.” This metaphor for two men who fight over a woman speaks to the role of the diviner, who must insert himself into seemingly irreconcilable situations. Divination whistles were used with power figures (nkisi) to call upon ancestral spirits in the supernatural realm and enlist their help in detecting sources of misfortune in the world of the living. While less elaborate versions of this whistle are used for communication among hunters, this type is the sole prerogative of ritual specialists.
  • Type: Ritual Objects
  • External Link: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/musart/x-2005-sl-1.181/2005_1_181.JPG?lasttype=boolean;lastview=thumbnail;resnum=1;sel9=ic_exact;size=20;sort=relevance;start=1;subview=detail;view=entry;rgn1=musart_an;select1=starts;q1=2005%2F1.181
  • Medium: wood, antelope horn