Figure (nkisi)
Bembe peoples, republic of the Congo and Democratic Republic of the Congo
Late 19th-early 20th century
Wood, feathers, hide, textile, fiber, mirror, ceramic, hair
H. 43 cm (16 15/16 in.)
National Museum of African Art,
gift of Lawrence Gussman in memory of Dr. Albert Schweitzer, 98-15-10

Title: Beneath the Surface Image: Conservator Dana MoffettMore often than not, objects can be more complex than they appear, prompting curators and conservators to ask questions about attribution, function and structure. Unfamiliar with wrapped Bembe objects, curator Bryna Freyer questioned the figure's attribution and intended function. Was it truly an artwork of the Bembe peoples? Or, was it carved by neighboring peoples? Had it always been an nkisi? Or, had its function changed sometime in its history?

Freyer turned to conservator Dana Moffett to confirm or refute her suppositions. By x-raying objects, conservators can view their inner structures, uncover old restorations, identify materials, document the conditions and resolve treatment issues.

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Reliquary Guardian Figures | Masks of Gabon and the Congo | Status and Power | Divination and Spiritual Power | Figurative Sculpture | Beneath the Surface

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