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Nail fetishes were normally the property of religious specialists who made a large part of their living out of them. Whenever an oath was being taken in any legal case, the nganga drove a nail into the figure so as to make it active so that its spirit would see to it that the oath taker fulfilled his obligations, spoke the truth or did not break his oath on the penalty of death.
This is a classic piece, the number of nails and iron blades terrifying to its long use.
The roughness of the nails is particularly striking in this figure. Large nail fetishes like these served for protecting an entire village. Overall good condition with traces of wear and tear due to tribal libations.
Large Nail Fetish (122 cm)
Ethnic group/ culture
Nail, Wood, Horn, Hair (animal), Iron
2nd half 20th century