African Art, she articulates seven of the most common myths believed around the world surrounding African art. Of those seven myths, one that stands most true is the myth that African art is bound by place; the idea that African art in particular travels nowhere and its ideas are constrained to Just the cultures they are sculpted in. Slier states, “The African art of myth is also frequently presented, incorrectly again, as an art rigidly bound by place. L She continues to express how most of the African art objects and styles tidied are Judiciously ascribed to particular regions and cultures as if they have no ability to circulate beyond where they came from. Nevertheless, there are two particular objects in African art that help to disprove this myth that African art is bound by place- the knish unkind of the Kong culture and the packet Kong of the Haitian Voodoo culture. The knish unkind (figure 1) of the Kong culture is a very unique item of African art and has many distinctive qualities that are often difficult to compare with any other African object.
However, the packet Kong (figure 2) of the Haitian Voodoo culture hares many similarities to the Minks. Figure 1 is generally made of wood, iron, shells, nails, cloth, fiber, medicinal materials, etc. And usually contains a mirror in the belly; it typically contains anything that could represent some kind of life force or symbolize the circle of life. Similarly, figure 2 is generally made of cloth, fibers, feathers, medicinal packets and any other ritual objects that could be embodied religiously, like crucifixes.
Not only are these two objects physically created in similar fashion, but they also have very synonymous uses and practices. The knish unkind ND the packet Kong are both used medically, politically, and religiously in each of their respective cultures. The Haitian Voodoo culture is practiced chiefly in Haiti (blue circle in figure 3), which is miles and miles away from western Africa (red circle in figure 3) where the Kong culture had originated. Consequently, the very distinct similarities in custom between the minks and the packet Kong gives reason to believe that African art is in fact not bound by place at all; contrarily, the parallels in medicinal, political, and religious practices between these two objects presents a throng argument to diverge this myth that African art is bound by place. The minks statues, as stated in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts’ article Nail Figure (Knish Unkind), “derived their supernatural power from medicinal substances. 3 In its most basic form, it is an object that has no power unless it contains empowering materials or “medicines”, called billions, which can consist of animal, vegetable, mineral matter and even blood. According to Jim Parkinson, “the hollowed backside harbors medicine bundles placed there by the mango (traditional healer). “4 The mango is the only one with the power to connect with the other world ND is seen as the most powerful people within their culture.
The mango places these “medicines” into cavities of the head and body of the figure, which gives the knish unkind power, making it possible for the client to connect with the ancestors through the mango. 5 After these medicines are placed in the minks, the angina will generally hammer a nail into the figure in order to evoke the spirits, which will help heal the subject. Enemies Assai further explains the importance of the minks relationship within the Kong culture in her quote from Pamela Mukluks article
The Fetish and Imagination of Europe: “Knish is the name of the thing we use to help a man when he is sick and from which we obtain health; the name refers to leaves and medicines combined together…. An knish is also a chosen companion, in whom all people find confidence. It is a hiding place for people’s souls to keep and compose in order to preserve life (breath). But the help in healing is why people are especially grateful for Minks… “6 Evidently, the Kong culture believes knish is the one of the most important objects in the world.
It is an item with an immense amount of power and meaning, which effects all the people within this culture. After an knish is used medicinally, the mango reoccupies it with more medicinal materials so that it is ready for its next use; it is a constant cycle of use and restoration. A knish unkind is specific to the mango that sculpts it and is used until it can no longer assist the engages followers. The knish unkind is an object in the Kong culture that is always appreciated because is has a great impact in their lives due to its many uses.
Similarly to the knish unkind, the most basic form of a packet Kong in the Haitian Voodoo culture is a fabric pouch escorted with feathers, ribbons, and sequins that is only powerful if it contains “magical” or medicinal ingredients such as herbs, earth, vegetable matter etc. Donald Consenting elaborates in his article Sacred Arts of Haitian Voodoo, that the packet songs are, “bound medicine packets, consecrated to spirits such as Simi McKay and Rene Kong. “7 These spiritual objects made by Voodoo priests and priestesses during Poets ceremonies and serve as power objects, which are kept on the Poets altars during healing ceremonies.
The packet songs are used to connect with the spirits of the dead, which is elaborated in Manure Landlines article, Music, Healing, and Community in Haitian/Dominican. Manure Landless writes, “Central African-derived ritual practices evoke forces of nature, including the dead, and often center around consecrated objects that have the power to bring speedy results [in healing] such as the packet Kong. “8 Similar to how the mango nails the knish to activate the Kong spirits, the ritual experts carry out their acts of healing by pinning the packet songs to activate and welcome the Voodoo spirits.
These ritual experts can pin many different objects and materials on these containers, such as leaves, vegetable matter, and ribbons. One example of this act is shown in Sahara Feet’s book Healing, Health, and Power on Southern Slave Plantations, when she states, “medicinal leaves also lend important symbolism to the construction of Voodoo power objects, or packet Kong, which can be activated and enlivened by ritual experts. “9 These medicinal commonalities make it evident that the knish unkind and the packet songs must have some connection. This medicinal relationship disproves the Slider’s myth that African art is bound by place.
In addition, these separate cultures have incredible similarities in their political uses of these two items. The Wellbeing Timeline of Art History explains, “For instance, only experienced banging [plural angina] assume the responsibility of the most powerful Minks, those concerned with political matters and the administration of Justice. “10 Similar to how politics work today, only the most qualified people can control the most powerful facets of their societies; in the Kong culture, the knish is seen as an all-powerful object, evident to why only the most experienced mango are permitted to interact with them.
Figure 1 is used to carry out Judicial procedures, hunt down thieves and Iranians, and assist in making critical decisions concerning the whole village. This excerpt from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts elaborates on that process: “Judicial procedures were carried out in public along well-prescribed lines. Together, the people and the specialist investigated and tried to understand whatever problem had plagued their village. When a problem was resolved, a disagreement settled, or the cure of an illness decided upon, the principal parties drove a blade, nail, screw and/or other sharply pointed objects into the knish unkind. 11 The reading further elaborates how each type of agreement or remedy determines he nail or blade that is used in these ceremonies, which can be seen in figure 1 . Each blade or nail that has been driven into the knish unkind represents an oath, an agreement, or an episode in the village’s history, which is witnessed by this object. 12 Furthermore, particular knish unkind figures that are made to be ‘hunters’ can capture liars, thieves, adulterers and “others who undermine societal structure,” according to the MOA. 3 The packet Kong is used Just as frequently in Haitian Voodoo politics as the minks are used in Kong culture. A priest or priestess calls upon particular deities in the Haitian Voodoo culture that are housed in the containers of packet songs in order to witness a political agreement. 14 Similar to inserting a nail into an knish unkind, a pin is inserted into the packet Kong. This container, shown in Figure 2, also holds a spirit when it is called upon to give advice to the people of the Haitian Voodoo culture. The spirit helps clients who need to make a difficult decision or finalize an agreement with another person.
In addition, all packet songs are made my priests or priestesses over the duration of a poets ceremony, also a time where political and there important decisions are made concerning a village or large group of people within the Haitian voodoo culture. Evidently, the similarities in the knish unkind and packet Kong fully disprove the myth that African art is bound by culture and region. Finally, the religious comparisons between the knish unkind and packet Kong further diverge the myth that African art is bound by place. As previously discussed, all minks have a ritual specialist, known as a mango, in the Kong society.
This ritual specialist uses their power to evoke the spirits, which embody the knish and help societies medically and politically. Furthermore, Hellebore’s Timeline of Art History suggest, “the practice of piercing the knish with nails, spikes or other elements was adopted from Christian images of martyred saints introduced in the area. “1 5 Evidently, Kong culture as a whole, as well as the knish in particular, drew off of religious practices seen in other religions, such as Christianity. Alias Legman examines the religious facet of the minks in her book Art and Oracle: African Art and Rituals of Divination.
She states, “Furthermore, in the fabrication and consecration of a [knish], a person is imaginatively recreating the self in terms of a spiritual entity (or deity). A Christian crucifix, a Russian Orthodox icon or a Yak slit drum, in its ritual context is an expression of inner life of each individual who participates in the ritual. “16 The representation of inner life seen in the crucifix and Yak slit drum is seen in figure 1, an object created with the same meaning in the Kong culture. In its later stages, minks became containers that embodied deities in the Kong culture, much like a god would in most other religions.
International trade is evidently seen within these practices in the transfer of ideas between cultures. These cultures have such strong religious commonalities that it is impossible to suggest that African art is bound by a place. Similarly to the Christian influence seen in the Kong culture, according to the Encyclopedia of Global Religion, Nod… Incorporates elements from traditional African religion with Christian images and practices. “17 This is seen in figure 2 where the crucifix sits on the top of the packet Kong.
In addition, the Voodoo religion seen in Haiti was also influenced by the Your culture in Western Nigeria, which is circled in green in figure 3. The Encyclopedia of Global Religion also states, Haitian Voodoo is a neo-African spiritual system, philosophical construct, and religion whose core resides largely in Adenoma (presently Benign) and in Hardbound, in western Nigeria. “18 Not only is there evidence of Voodoo traditions coming from other religions, but there is also evidence of them physically being circulated throughout the world, hundreds of miles in every direction away from where it is chiefly practiced in Haiti.
According to Weasel’s comment in his interview with Baize, “The bottles are for the Petrol Iowa. They came from Guiana- the Petrol Iowa brought them from Guiana. 19 However, the Haitian Voodoo and the Kong culture share more than just traditions borrowed from other religions. There is evidence to suggest that the Voodoo culture also borrowed traditions directly from the Kong culture. According to Congolese Catholic Influences on Haitian Popular Catholicism, “Haitian religious culture is consistent with, and perhaps derives from, the Congolese tradition. 20 Although the common elements from the Kong culture are not identical to those in the Haitian Voodoo culture, one can easily identify that these practices originated within the Kong culture and have been transformed while moving across the world. Most of the Haitian population was originally from Africa, which supports the transformation from the Kong culture to Haitian Voodoo. The Encyclopedia of Global Religion reads, “What is distinctive about Haitian Voodoo additionally is that it incorporated the powerful systems of the Baking [Kong] peoples in Central Africa. 21 In addition, Paul Gradually writes in his review of Donald Contention’s Sacred Arts of Haitian Voodoo, “The roles of various spirit repositories and containers or Packet Kong are described, as well as their ties to Knish, their Kong counter- parts. 22 The most distinct similarity between these two objects are their relations with the spirits they ‘hold. ‘ Both minks and packet songs can help someone communicate between the spiritual and living world in each of their respective cultures. They both have a master ritualism that uses that communication with the spirits to assist their clients.
And finally, many packet songs are tied with a crucifix atop the container, shown in figure 2. Not only is this another example of the Haitian Voodoo culture drawing off of other religions like Christianity, but according to Terry Ere, “It is also common today to tie or bind knish, as a way of ensuring that the power is held in… “23 This is Just another amazingly parallel comparison between the two objects; Just as knish are binned by a rope to hold their spiritual power in, packet songs tie crucifixes and other religiously held objects to the top of the containers.
The incredibly similar connections that these two African art items have religiously completely diverge Suzanne Slider’s myth of Africa that African art is bound by location and culture. Perhaps the greatest summation of this argument that African art is in fact not mound by place is drawn from Terry Rye’s article Congolese Catholic Influences on Haitian Popular Catholicism: A Stochastically Exploration when she writes, “In Kong, indigenous medicines and charms (manikin’s) may take the form of any ‘container… Many are packets (also common in Haitian Voodoo; e. G. packet Kong) and are believed to contain medicines (billions) and a soul (moony) combined to give it life and power. “24 In fact, one can argue that minks figures and packet songs are actually one in the same; both have multiple uses medicinally, politically, and religiously in each of their respective cultures. Moreover, they both use the same ideals and instill the same beliefs to execute those manipulations. Perhaps at one point in time they were meant to be the same figures, yet the transfer of cultures and ideas over time had transgressed the original form and they both ended up taking on a life of their own.