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Fly Whisk

African Art

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Fly Whisk

Artwork Details


Kongo Artist, Vili Region
Democratic Republic of the Congo or Republic of the Congo


nineteenth century or earlier


Wood, hair, and raffia

Accession #



Please contact the Museum for more information.


Currently Not on View


This fly whisk was used as an emblem of political office. Its smooth, worn surfaces show signs of extensive use. Delicate metalwork ornaments the figure’s face, repeating the same sign at the center of her forehead and at both temples. These four points mark the Dikenga, the Kongo cosmogram that charts the never-ending cycle of life. Moving counterclockwise, the point at three o’clock indicates birth, twelve o’clock indicates prime of life, nine o’clock indicates the role of the elders, and six o’clock refers to the realm of the ancestors.


Fred and Rita Richman Collection