Small wooden animal, possibly a dog or warthog, stands with medicinal pack and mirror embedded into its back; face has long sneering mouth and snout, bearing teeth. short pointed ears; tail curls at end. Two “guns” or pointy projections would have come out above the dog’s front legs, but they have broken off.
Ritual specialists called banganga (plural of nganga) use minkisi (plural of nkisi) as divination tools. With the help of incantations, whistle sounds, claps, and other interactive gestures, ritual practitioners call ancestral spirits from the underworld to inhabit sculptures like this one as a means of resolving social, political, or personal problems, which befall communities or individuals. Kozo animals can see at night and as such are said to have four eyes. They are especially successful at identifying, capturing, and redressing malevolent forces.
Two components make up this vertical whistle. The superstructure is a wooden carving of two birds that face each other, bellies touching, with a small round object between them, so that each is holding it in their beaks. The birds' talons clutch the base of the sculpture. The base has a hole in the center into which the antelope horn is pegged.
The sculpture atop the horn illustrates a Vili proverb warning about the complications that stem from fighting over the same woman. Ritual specialists often doubled as judges in time of moral and social instability. People facing seemingly irreconcilable problems consulted experts to get to the root of the problem. Banganga or professional practitioners used objects like this whistle to awaken ancestral forces lying latent in nearby minkisi sculptures.
The body of this cylindrical censer is decorated with eight columns spaced at regular intervals. The lid of the censer consists of an openwork dome divided into sections by eight vertical ribs that converge at its apex. An arched horizontal band intersects the midpoint of the ribs, and these eight junctures are marked with a projecting bird that holds a small bronze ball dangling from its beak. Two segments of the dome are decorated with Maltese crosses while another two feature curved plant forms. The apex is surmounted by a finial comprised of a globe topped by a Maltese cross on which a bird holding a piece of fruit perches.
During liturgical rituals this Coptic censer would have been swung on a chain attached to its lid in order to scent the church with incense. The incense, usually spices or wood gums, would have been sprinkled over a bed of smoldering coals in the body of the censer, and the sweet fragrance of the burning incense would have exited through the perforated lid. The columns encircling the body of the censer, the domed lid, and the finial give the censer the appearance of a domed church, which would have visually harmonized the censer with its setting.