NKISI SARABANDA - Signature of the Spirit

Nkisi Sarabanda

NPS

Nkisi Sarabanda, symbolizing the signature of the spirit, is a representation of a bakongo cosmogram. This symbol portrays how the Congo-angolan people viewed the interaction between the spiritual and material world, or in other words between the living and the dead;the Congo-angolan people believe that these worlds are inherently intertwined. An Nkisi is a spiritual object used for worship purposes, and have been found in places where enslaved Africans have lived in, such as in the plantation homes. Nkisis show the development of African American culture in how they are essentially African objects, but are constructed through American materials. This also reveals an aspect of the melting pot of African and American culture. Sarabanda just connotes "the highest spirit". Part of the symbol takes the form of a cross, because the Congolese had an inclination towards Christianity. Communication appears to take place at the center of the cross, where the worlds intersect, and it was believed that spirits sat at the center of the sign. The arrows represent the four winds of the universe, and the symbol as a whole resembles the form of a spiral galaxy;this indicates their interest in astronomy and affinity towards nature.

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African Burial Ground NM
C/O Federal Hall National Memorial
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