Democratic Republic of Congo
Wood, cloth, feathers, fetish material.
12″ Tall (30.48 cm)
Good, small age chip on one ear.
Private Estate Collection – California, USA.
This fetish figure (as called in older literature) or power figure, is attributed to the Yaka people of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is figure that would generally be used by diviners in the healing and protection rituals they held. They were however used by individuals, families and entire villages too in the fight against evil, to destroy or weaken and evil spirits that were present, to help prevent and even cure sickness, to solidify contracts or agrrements between tribes people, and to repel bad deeds.
The Yaka are and other African tribes are bound to a strange relationship with power figures, as they can be an ally or an enemy. The negatives are, they can be used to invoke illness, to harm or to take revenge by those who have been wronged. They are normally used in this fashion against ‘witches’ or ‘sorcerers’. On a positive note, they are generally used as a form of protection from misfortune, to heal and to bring success.
How these figures differ from ancestral figures is that they derive their power from ritual use and the addition of ‘power or fetish materials’. The application and ‘charging’ of the fetish material to the figure is carried out by a specialist, usually the diviner who will then initiate the figure for its intended use.