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Tribal art > African Reliquary > Mahongwe Reliquary

Figure of reliquary Mahongwe biface (N° 16975)

This rare two-face sculpture is characteristic of the Mahongwe of the extreme northeast of Gabon, on the border of Congo, and associated according to some with the naja snake. The baskets containing the relics of illustrious ancestors, usually surmounted by two reliquaries, were kept in temples in the village. One was the founder of the lineage, and the second his descendants.
The concave warhead face topped with a small tubular growth is adorned with cabochons eyes, equipped with a pupil. A rounded nose accentuates the singular appearance of the mouthless face. Metal wires and repulsed strips provide a carefully alternate décor. The foot is eroded. Beautiful grey patina, green-of-grey reflections.
Collection Mercier.
The cult of ancestors, the bwete (North Kota) was at the heart of the social and religious life of the Kota and has many analogies with that of Fang . In the exclusive presence of insiders, the clan's major decisions were made during ceremonies during which the reliquaries were taken out and used. In order to reactivate the magical charge, the initiates rubbed the relic with sand. In the Kota , these figures have reached a degree of stylization and astounding abstraction: reduced to the shoulders and "bras" surmounted by a large face, the latter can be concave (female) or convex (male).  

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OriginCollection belge Mercier
EthnyKota
Countrygabon
Material(s)wood, metal
Height cm50
Width20 cm
Weight3.00 Kg
Estimated datingmid xxe
Socle includedYes

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