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Bembe Healing Fetish

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Item 375
12.00 LBS
Calculated at checkout
Maximum Purchase:
1 unit(s)

Product Description

The Bembe originate from the northwest forests of the Congo. In the 18th century they migrated to the eastern part of the Congo near the border of Tanzania and Burundi. During their trek the Bembe came in close contact with the Teke, Lega, Hemba and Boyo people that were indigenous to the region. This influence is shown by their use of magic statues called nkisi and fetish which are empowered by the village “ndoki” or medicine men. The ndoki was feared and yet indispensable to the Bembe for it was believed that he held the power over life and death. The ndoki was also the most powerful healer and was relied upon to cure ailments often through the use of the fetish. The unique selection pictured was created to resolve a malady that the ndoki believed originated in the stomach cavity of the victim. Whether the affliction was caused by a malevolent other worldly force or by poisoning the power instilled in this curious object would serve as a cure. The fetish is topped by a wooden detachable head whose neck is restrained by strings of fiber and a heavy brass ring. The facial features are natural and the expression stoic. It was beautifully carved from an impressive piece of smoothed hardwood whose natural grain shows through. The head is positioned upon a round gourd that has been lined with a thin fiber cloth within. This cloth appears on the outer shell as well and is layered in certain areas. This outer shell cloth is encrusted all over with a dried mud like substance. Red, tattered, fabric tuffs appear in scattered regions of the outer shell fabric lining along with triads of cowry shell clusters. The round gourd mimics the body of the afflicted and serves as the vessel from which the victim will be healed. A ring of thick fiber covered by fabric is attached to the mouth of the gourd. Two arm-like structures, made with the same materials are attached to the top ring, proceed down and around to the center of the gourd torso and are joined by a center circular fabric ring. This ring is adorned with cowry shells and outlines a bulging center that gives in a bit to the touch that has been covered with a bright red cloth which perhaps indicates the core of the ailment. The body sits upon another thick fabric ring which has two fabric encased legs, each bent at the knee with feet covered in red material joined to it. The ndoki would place healing herbs and other natural botanicals along with magical substances into the bowl of the gourd. Subsequently the person in need of healing would be introduced to this potion either topically or orally. This unique piece is the epitome of magical Congo practice in Africa.

Please click photo for enlargement!

Dimensions: The entire piece wit the top attached is 20 inches tall x 11 inches wide x 12 inches deep including the extended feet. 

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