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Current time:0:00Total duration:4:59

Video transcript

[Music] we're at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and we're looking at a Congo and Kesey figure from the Democratic Republic of Congo so the condo is in Central Africa it was a large Kingdom that was founded in the 14th century and over the centuries eventually colonized by Belgium when the Portuguese who arrived in Africa in the late 15th century saw these figures and Kishi and also brought missionaries to Christianize the people of the Congo they asked that these figures be burned the term and kisi refers to a spirit but more specifically medicine and when I say medicine I don't mean an aspirin I mean the herbs and supplements that a healer would use to help someone on a physical but also on a spiritual mental and emotional level being Ganga is the ritual specialist among the Congo in this period of time around the 19th century who would use in kisi figures to help his client so the N Ganga would ask a sculptor to carve this and then the in Ganga would use it over the course of a considerable amount of time and over that time this figure would accrue everything that we see on it and all of this material is covering its abdomen we're likely although we can't see it is a case for holding that spiritual medicine that spiritual center of my oh the belly is where you place the medicine or the materials and it could be stone it could be herbs that could be paste and clays but in Ganga would be mixing this formula together placing it in the cavity in the belly and then covering up so that it's completely sealed so the in Gunda would use this figure in several different ways he could use it to heal a client who came tin but he could also use it to record agreements and contracts and also could activate it she go after evildoers as a witness the in kisi really is there to honor contracts and agreements and oaths that are taken and then Ganga might take a strip of cloth and literally tie in bind that agreement together so each one of those knots that we're seeing is likely that and in order for the innkeep you to do your bidding that is to go after someone who broken close or did you wrong you might use dog teeth or elements of birds and we see a sharp object that looks like it belonged to an animal a bird or a dog that could do harm in order to activate this in kisi because really it's just a piece of wood until it's activated with a spirit the an ganga wood hammer nails into its skin thereby calling attention to the in case you to come and do its bidding so there are so many nails it feels like this is used over decades it constantly looks different as the in ganga works and while we see it here and crafted and crumbling and full of lots of materials what it's probably missing is the medicine that was in it to abdomen originally because it said that the medicine pouch is so central and so potent you would not sell this piece or let it fall into the hands of anyone but they in ganga with that present so likely it originally had legs was able to stand had a base those are not here it's impossible to know exactly what those look like but the figure really is encrusted on all of its sides but there's another example here at the mat where we can see more clearly the opening in the abdomen and we notice what that abdomen is hollow so whatever was inside of it has been taken out rendering it impotent you also see amulets one of them is beaded another looks almost like a nut that's got some carving on the outside seedpods pieces of animals carved figures and the car figures actually have something inside of their belly and we seem to have two interlocking crocodiles we also have a bell on the side which is similar to the nails and that it can be rung to bring the in key see spirit into this figure and in case he would have been housed in the in Ganga's home and his shrine if I was a client I would bring money or something to trade to the endunda who would do this work for me either mark tract or an agreement of some kind or write some sort of wrong for me and so the in Ganga also has to remember what each one of these nails and not were for being kisi then becomes a wonderful historic social document of a group of people who sought out help from their ritual specialists [Music]