figures throughout Africa are vessels of power that can control and inﬂuence things
seen and unseen affecting destiny.
A fetish is an object with perceived supernatural powers used to invoke vigilant and protective spirits to drive away evil spirits, invoke the power to afflict a person with a disease or attempt to control destiny. In Africa and throughout the world these beliefs are manifested in some of the most expressive and magical power figures ever created called fetishes.
|Rafa African Fetish|
Common to many tribes in Africa is the belief that the fetishes are powerful through their ritualistic carving and sanctification. Fetishes also are made of different special substances and offered sacrifices depending on the need of the person.
Fetishes are carved with the intention to be held in the hand or set upright in the ground during a ceremony in which songs, dances, invocations, divinations, and gifts are associated with fetish devotion.
The delicacy of feature and expression used in the carved wooden ﬁgures of human beings and animals are typical art forms used to make a fetish. Some fetishes have the heads or stomachs hollowed out to hold special materials. Among the materials added to the wood figures are horns, shells, nails, feathers, mirrors, metal, twine, paint, cloth, raffia, fur, beads and herbs; anything thought to add power to the fetish.
The word fetish is a Portuguese word feitiço meaning charm, sorcery. Nowadays fetish is used to denote a wide variety of magical and religious objects for mental or spiritual strength.