Kissi Stone Figure

   Kissi People carved stone figure (detail)
  Stone Figure, Kissi people (detail)

Many people have heard stories about farmers discovering artifacts in their fields. This takes place all over the world. In America, they find shell casings from the Civil War and Indian arrowheads. In Europe, a stash of Roman gold was recently unearthed. In South America, it’s pre-Columbian pottery. Relics of the past work their way into the present for those who look hard enough or are just plain lucky. Some of the luckiest are members of the Kissi tribe (pronounced kee-see) in Sierra Leone, West Africa. There, small stone statues also known as Kissi, may surface as farmers manually hoe fields. These statues are so rare; farmers may make more from their discovery than from their crops.

Kissi Stone Figure
Kissi stone figure

Featured is a 400 year old Kissi stone statue. It’s generally believed to represent an ancestral spirit, a mediator between the living and the divine. Another school of thought suggests it represents a spirit governing crops, an effigy placed in a shrine to insure a good harvest. Still another suggests it was used to keep evil spirits away. It’s impossible to say exactly why this statue was created. Centuries ago ancestor worship was common among the Kissi, statues were regularly presented with offerings by village headmen, and all sorts of devices were used to ward off witchcraft and counteract malevolent spirits. Today, many Kissi still practice their traditional tribal beliefs, leaving one to wonder, did this statue surface to remind us of man’s spiritual activities or to faithfully serve another lucky owner? Could the answer be both?

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