Nkisi (woman) – D.R. Congo

The PBR (Physically Based Rendering) textures in 3D, used with this scanned figure, are a type of texture that is used to make objects in a 3D world look more realistic.

Instead of simply adding colors and shadows to a surface, PBR textures are based on physical principles to simulate how light interacts with different materials. This means that PBR textures take into account things like reflection, refraction, roughness, opacity, and other physical aspects of a material.

Let’s explain a little what an Nkisi is.

A “Nkisi” is a sacred object that acts as a container for spiritual energy or supernatural power, and is used in religious rituals and healing. The word “Nkisi” can also refer to the deity or spirit invoked in the ritual.

On the other hand, a “Noganga” is a healer or shaman in Bantu tradition, who uses Nkisi in their job. The Noganga is a person with special abilities to work with the spiritual energy of Nkisi and use it to heal the sick, protect the community, and resolve conflicts.

Therefore, a “Nkisi-noganga” refers to a person who has knowledge and skills in both the fabrication and use of Nkisi and in healing and curing. These people play an important role in Bantu religion and culture, and are considered spiritual and community leaders in their society.

Nkisi figures can be either male or female, depending on the purpose for which they were created and the spirit invoked in the ritual. In Bantu tradition, it is believed that both men and women have spiritual abilities and can connect with divine powers. Therefore, both men and women can be healers, Nkisi creators, and spiritual leaders in their community.

In addition, some Nkisi figures are created to represent specific deities, which can be male or female. In such cases, the Nkisi figure may take the form of the represented deity, whether male or female.

Nkisi can be made of various materials, depending on the purpose for which they were created and the availability of materials in the region.

Like the one presented here, the oldest Nkisi were generally made of wood, as it was an easily available and easy-to-carve material. The wood was carved and decorated with designs and symbols that represented the invoked spirit and its power.

Other materials that have been used in the creation of Nkisi include clay, iron, fabric, animal skin, ivory, and other natural materials. These materials are often used in combination with wood and are carved, sculpted, or molded to create the Nkisi figure.

Today, some Nkisi are also made of modern materials such as plastic or metal, although traditional materials are still the most valued in that culture and religion.

Bantu traditional religion and culture are based on the belief in spirits and ancestors, who have the ability to interact with the living and can influence their lives. Religious practice includes the use of sacred objects like Nkisi, and the performance of rituals for healing, protection, and conflict resolution.

Bantu culture values community and interdependence among its members, and communal rituals and celebrations are an important part of social and spiritual life. Music, dance, and art also play an important role in their cultural expression.