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Tribal art > African Reliquary > Kota figure

Figure of reliquary Kota Mahongwe (N° 18819)

The concave face surmounted by a tubular excrescence offers here two cabochon eyes with a pupil framing a hooked nose. Threads and metal plates, skillfully arranged, alternate on the surface whose magical power was reactivated by the use of sand.
This sculpture is characteristic of the MaHongwe from the extreme northeast of Gabon, on the border with Congo. Baskets containing the relics of illustrious ancestors, usually surmounted by two reliquaries, were kept in village temples. One embodied the founder of the lineage, and the other his descendants. Ancestor worship, the bwete (North Kota) was at the heart of the social and religious life of the Kota and has many analogies with that of the Fang. In the exclusive presence of insiders, the major decisions of the clan were made during ceremonies in which the reliquaries were taken out and used. In order to reactivate the magical charge, the initiates rubbed the relic with sand. Among the Kota , these figures have reached an astounding degree of stylization and abstraction: reduced to shoulders and "arms" surmounted by a large face, the latter can be concave (feminine) or convex (masculine).  

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OriginCollection Française
EthnyMahongwé
Countrygabon
Material(s)wood, copper
Height53
Depth14
Width19
Weight1.97 Kg
Estimated datingmid-xx°
Socle includedYes

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