The nkonde are actually nkisi (charms) working for the good of the community. The nkonde track down criminals and sorcerers and could use their powers to strike them with one or several serious illnesses. This example could be called Mungundu, a nkonde associated with illnesses that provoke hemoptysis.
These masks belonged to the weetshi (soothsayer) of the southern Tetela, whose job it was to track down people who practiced doka (black magic). The weetshi put the mask on before appearing, still and silent, to the crowd.
This sculpture is connected with the worship of ancestors descended from important lineages. Certain dawa (charms) belonging to the dead person represented could be placed beside him or attached to the sculpture.