Embodying the founder of a lineage, this wooden sculpture of the Mahongwe, from the extreme north-east of Gabon, on the Congo border, is lined with metal threads. The concave ogival face surmounted by an excrescence would symbolize for some the serpent naja. The pattern on the back recalls the hairstyle of certain dignitaries.
The baskets containing the relics of illustrious ancestors, generally surmounted by two reliquaries, were kept in temples in the village. One of them embodied the founder of the lineage, and the second his descendants.
The worship of ancestors, the bwete (Northern Kota) was at the heart of the social and religious life of the Kota and presents many analogies with that of the Fang . In the exclusive presence of initiates, the major decisions of the clan were taken during ceremonies during which the reliquaries were taken out and used. In order to reactivate the magic charge, the initiates rubbed the relic with sand.
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