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Tribal art > African Reliquary > Kota reliquary

Kota Mbulu-Ngulu reliquary figure (N° 21806)

This reliquary guardian effigy, evoking the ancestors, adopts the traditional hairstyle: a top headdress with rounded flat shells ending in two short pendants. The convex face presents a rounded forehead, a heart-shaped eyebrow arch, half-closed palpebral slits. The whole is clad in a network of copper strips, cleverly arranged, that a fine nailing fixes to the wooden frame. . Its tall stature further implies that it was endowed with great ritual value.
The Kota Ndasa of the Ogooué valley in Gabon and Congo produced this type of sculpture which played the role of "medium" between the living and the dead and continued to watch over their descendants. They are sometimes two-sided, the < i> mbulu-viti , symbolizing the masculine and feminine aspect at the same time. This type of piece was indeed used during the conservation of the mortuary remains of ancestors of high lineage in baskets surmounted by sculptures playing in a way the role of guardians of the relics called ngulu . In the exclusive presence of initiates, the major decisions of the clan were taken during ceremonies in which the reliquaries were taken out and used. In order to reactivate its magical charge, the initiates rubbed the relic with sand.  

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OriginEx. coll.belge, ex. coll.française Saverio
Material(s)wood, metal
Height cm85
Width38 cm
Weight6.75 Kg
Socle includedYes

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