Rijksmuseum voor Voikenkunde, Leyden. They were used to identify and hunt down unknown wrongdoers such as thieves, and people who were believed to cause sickness or death by occult means. Moreover, when the followers of the Kongo religion in Havanna, New York and Miami receive their master medicines, the grand minkisi called prendas, we frequently find that each medicine-vessel is 'nailed' with inserted twigs and sticks and blades precisely in the manner of zinkondi. The name nkondi derives from the verb -kondameaning "to hunt" and thus nkondi means "hunter" because they can hunt down and attack wrong-doers, witches, or enemies. Yombe Nail Fetish Figure Estimate: The creation and use of nkondi figures was also a very important aspect to their success.
Ndembi Nsasi Brussels,
Democratic Republic of Congo - Kongo Dog Nail Fetish (British Museum)
The right hand of the nkondi is especially stylized. Once again African traditions manage to bring considerable natural and wholly psychological powers into play, operating through the manipulation of relatively meager material factors. The commemorative statues known as phemba were designed for women who had lost a child and wanted another. R and African Art home page. Although the majority of carved figures are made of wood, many important pieces in metal and ivory have been found.