The Sacred Harp, Ngombi

Acrylics on canvas.

50cm x 50cm.

Prints Available in a range of sizes and art stocks from £45.

The Ngombi is the eight-stringed harp used within the tradition of Bwiti. In the ancient ancestor cults that pre-date modern Bwiti, the bones of the dead were kept within the sounding chamber. This practice no longer endures due to Christian missionaries denouncing such practices, however, it is understood that the music of the harp allows the voices of our ancestors to be heard during ceremonies using the plant teacher, Iboga. The Ngombi forms a bridge between worlds, allowing the initiate to travel on their great journey.

The Mother of the world, Nyingwan Mebengé, speaks to the spirit of the harp, Mebongo (the carved female form found on most Ngombis), who in turn whispers to the Beté (the harpist), guiding his fingers and voice. The harpist represented here is called Mutoba, and was my first teacher of the Ngombi.

During the initiation ceremony, the harpist places and plays the Ngombi into specific points on the body, including placing it on the crown of the head. The vibrational energy is directly conferred into the Bandzi (initiate). The Bandzi in this painting is being visited by a spirit who is able to travel through the vibrational energy of the harp strings and sacred sound being produced.