MSSU African Art Exibit : The MSSU African Art collection features a variety of authentic works of art from various tribes located throughout Central Africa. The objects in the collection range from mundane day to day grooming tools to ritualistic masks and statues.
Steatite, Nomoli (Found Spirit)
Object Name:
Figure, Steatite, Nomoli
Other Name:
Nomori, Found Spirit, Kissi, Pombo
Place of Origin:
Possibly: Kissi or Sapi, Sierra Leone, Africa
Aboriginal Indigenous Art.
H = 6—1/2"
W = 2—1/2"
D = 3—1/2"

Vivian Olson spent over 35 years as a missionary, in Sierra Leone. A letter that accompanied the seven items that she donated, make some mention of each piece. In her own words:

Nomori (more often called nomoli in Sierra Leone) is a steatite stone figure treated by a curious mixture of respect and familiarity by Sierra Leoneans. T.N. Goddard writes, "Thus, while a Nomori is venerated for its supernatural powers and the good luck it is supposed to bring, being placed, for example in a rice—field to assure good crops to the owner,,... It will ensure the death of his enemy, cure some illness, and bring wealth and prosperity... Nothing is known as yet of the race of men who are represented by these heads, or of the people who carved them."


For generations, farmers in Sierra Leone and adjoining portions of Guinea and Liberia have unearthed small figures carved of soapstone and other types of rock. The imagery and the style of these sculptures are quite varied, especially among those found in the lands now inhabited by the Kissi and Kono people. In lands now owned by the Mende people, farmers place excavated stone figures or freestanding heads in their rice fields or palm groves. Regarded as the representatives of previous owners of the land, the objects are given offerings and asked to bring abundant harvests. The Mende call these stone images nomoli (plural: nomolosia) —— “found spirit.”
Inland style carved stone Steatite. Elongated bald head, with large circular eyes. Worn but still visible, nose and mouth, large round ears. Arms rested on knees, in crouching position.
Vivian Olson Collection
Ritually Used
Art Department, Missouri Southern State University
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