Yombe Nkonde nail fetish figure, Congo region, late 20th Century. Mixed media of wood, cloth, iron nails and rope, with several magic bundles attached at the torso, standing an impressive 46 cm tall. Essentially a container for powerful magical/medicinal ingredients (bilongo). Such figures are used in healing or jural contexts: this figure shows an 'oath taking' gesture, with one arm upraised and holding a blade traditionally used for extracting the milk of the palm wine tree, and the ability to kill by supernatural means. Old nkonde statues may be valued at US$100,000 or more.