Dossier

Ausgabe 5

Le simulacre dans l'aire culturelle kongo

Entre idole et icône

Seite 76
Lay Tshiala

Nkisi are anthropomorphic or zoomorphic figurines made of wood, stone or other materials, created by certain «illuminated » Bakongo, in which they enclose a powerful spirit that they manipulate for magical, religious (animistic) and therapeutic ends. As such, nkisi were condemned as «fetishes» or «simulacra», by the first European explorers to discovered them in the late 15th century, for whom these receptacles were in clear contradiction with monotheistic Christi an dogma. And inded, the standard way in which nkisi were fabricated fit fairly well within the definition given of the simulacrum: a new nkisi was the reproduction/ duplication of an old nkisi. Later, the «problem of the simulacrum» blossomed in the Kongo kingdom through the interactions between local peoples and their European guests. The burning and export of nkisi by Christians triggered a massive increase in the production of false nkisi or «real» simulacra. While these exported nkisi of the diaspora became, in effect, simulacra in relation to their place of origin (by virtue of their new functions and conditions of existence in Europe), local sculptors « kongolized» the artifacts and symbols of Christianity (Biblic characters, crucifixes, etc.) to the point that they too took on the role of simulacra. In the end, it appears that the simulacrum is, in this context, a discursive and operational construct resulting from interaction and exchange.

Lay Tshiala, 1956. Licence en Arts, diplôme de recherche en études du développement, diplôme post-licence en sciences de l'éducation, diplôme postgrade en ethnologie et anthropologie. Doctorat en ethnologie sur les anthroponymes de la République démocratique du Congo en cours et diplôme d'études supérieures mention recherche en sciences de l'éducation.