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).