Saturday, January 20, 2007

Wood Carving- Minkisi (fetish)

Minkisi is a term used by the BaKongo people of Central Africa; the closest western term is "fetish" but that is a very incomplete translation. Minkisi can have powers; "they can destroy or benefit people; they are made of earth, ashes, leaves, and relics of the dead; they receive their powers by composition, conjuring and consecration".This carving is 15" tall and is Don's interpretation of some priceless pieces that we've seen in museums. For the BaKongo people, one would do the carving and only certain special individuals (the owners/operators of the minkisi) were able to place items in/on the carving itself. This minkisi has fiber, metal, quills, bird and cats bones, feathers, etc.; for the BaCongo, many of the colors, items and placements had a specific meaning but none of it could be realized if the minkisi did not also contain "medicines" (please see next post).

Wood Carving- African Fetish

We've always appreciated African art. A Smithsonian exhibit inspired Don to do his own figurine besed on the Congo artifacts of the late 1800's. These were said to possess great power when infused with "medicines" by the Nganga (expert owner/operator), often in the belly as this one. The "medicines" were for leadership, interpretation, guidance, seeing, etc. and were used to protect and punish both in this world and the world of the "afterlife". This was carved from a fence post from our home in California. It is approx. 16" tall and contains medicines in the form of teeth, hair, food, money, something from the dead and living, etc. The mirror reflects evil and the nails would have been inserted over time to accomplish a specific task...often aimed at a specific person. We give thanks to those who left nails and screws along the railroad tracks of Northern California and Nevada. Every minkisi is unique...never finished.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Spinecheek Anemone Fish

This fish is of the "nemo" variety...commonly called a "clown" fish (there are many varieties). It is unusual in that it lives it's entire life in and around a "host" anemone that is a lower level animal that has deadly (to other fish) stinging tenticles. The anemone in this picture is of the "bubble" type, The picture was taken in the Bismark Sea off the north coast of Papua New Guinea.

Soft Coral

This picture was taken at night off the East coast of Malaysian Borneo. This is an example of typical soft coral in "bloom". It appears to be a plant but it is, in fact, an animal...or more correctly, a colony of animals.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


Some Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) I made recently. They must measure 2-1/2 x 3-1/2".

Bead Art

Say hello to Ulo. Ulo is a commissioned piece done for an owl collector.
The body is made of felt and done in size 11 seed bead and Delicas for the beak. Ulo has leather feathers on its belly and is nested in down feathers mounted on a piece of wood. Ulo also has yellow crystal eyes. The owl measures 2 x 4-1/2". Ulo is stabilized in the piece by removable wire attached to the wood back.