Kongo-Vili Whistle Charm, Democratic Republic of the Congo
- wood, duiker horn
Mia and Loed van Bussel, Amsterdam
Etude Viviane Jutheau - de Witt, Paris, Collection van Bussel, June 25, 1996, lot 12
Alain de Monbrison, Paris
Patrick Caput, Paris, acquired from the above
Philippe Ratton and Daniel Hourdé, Paris, acquired from the above
Rey Kerr, New York, acquired from the above
Martin Lerner, New York, acquired from the above
Christine Mullen Kraemer (in Brincard 1989: 165) notes: "Elaborately carved human and animal forms adorn many of the whistles from the Lower Zaire [Congo] River. The whistles may be made entirely of wood or of small antelope horns accompanied by miniature sculptures. [...] Antelope horn whistles, often adorned with carved wooden finials, were probably used in medicinal and hunting contexts. These whistles are associated with nkisi, a category of power images endowed with substances by the nganga, a ritual specialist, and utilized to ensure successful endeavors and to maintain good health (Söderberg 1966: 7-12). [... Bertil Söderberg] states that the sculptures adorning these whistles are credited 'with spiritual power allowing the nganga to extract bullets by sucking [mpodi, to suck out] from a wound inflicted during war or in the course of hunting' (ibid.:10-13)."
For a group of early Kongo-Vili nsiba whistles collected in the 19th century and today in the Museum für Völkerkunde, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin, see Beumers and Koloss (1992: cats. 73-77). Another related example is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (inv. no. "1980.7").