Congo Nail Fetish

In the Congo (also spelled "Kongo"), people may seek, in a crisis, to obtain a spirit's protection by driving nails into its carved wooden likeness and shouting at it. Powerful substances like roots and other fetish materials— called nkondi— may be attached to the figure. To guard against misuse, a mirror was typically affixed to the body of the figure to reflect back any evil intent.

The nail fetish shown here (about 20 inches high and missing its mirror) was reportedly owned by a Congo tribal family in about the 1920s. However, many such items, while made in the traditional way, are modern productions deceptively "antiqued" to simulate a genuine fetish and made for export.