Mu Po (Power Figure)

By: Adenike Cosgrove Tagged:


Mu po power figures are utilised in a variety of ways; for one, they are placed in the homes of pregnant women to ensure successful birth. It is believed that the representation of pregnancy in these figures represents fertility and femininity and that their magical charge can ward away evil spirits and witchcraft.

Mu po figures are also placed in fields to protect crops, used by healers to cure clients of aliments and are also used to solve crimes.

Distinguishing Features

  • Carved from dark wood
  • Shiny dark brown patina with traces of encrustation
  • Some examples have head turned upwards
  • Oval face
  • Almond shaped eyes (in some examples carved as circles)
  • Open mouth (sometimes carved with teeth)
  • Minimised chest
  • Hands carved touching chin, belly or shoulders
    • NOTE: Hands placed on chin symbolise meditation and wisdom
    • NOTE: Hands placed on shoulders indicate the ability to conjure evil spirits
  • Disproportionally large, distended belly (ball shaped and round)
  • Bent knees
  • Some examples have a hole at the top of the head or on its back

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