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Tribal art - Kota:

The Kota are settled in eastern Gabon. Their reliquaries have greatly contributed to the discovery of their objects in tribal art. Like crucifixes in the Catholic religion, they are dedicated to the guarding of human bones.


Figure of reliquary Kota Mbulu ngula
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Tribal art > African Reliquary > Kota Reliquary

Stylistic variation of a striking abstraction of Kota art: metal plates are stapled on a wooden core with a face on top. Image inspired by visions, the head is crossed by a ridge forming the nose, punctuated by upholstery nails, whose copper color contrasts with the golden metal.
Baskets containing the relics of illustrious ancestors, usually surmounted by two reliquaries, were kept in temples in the village. One embodied the founder of the lineage, and the second embodied his descendants. The cult of ancestors, the bwete (North 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 made during ceremonies in which reliquaries were taken ...

Figure of reliquary Kota Mbulu Ngulu
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Tribal art > African Reliquary > Kota Reliquary

Rare stylistic variant of Kota art: metal plates are stapled on a wooden core with a face on top. Image inspired by visions, the geometrical head is crossed by a ridge forming the nose, punctuated by upholstery nails, whose copper color contrasts with the gilded metal.
Baskets containing the relics of illustrious ancestors, usually surmounted by two reliquaries, were kept in temples in the village. One embodied the founder of the lineage, and the second embodied his descendants. The cult of ancestors, the bwete (North 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 made during ceremonies in which reliquaries were taken out and ...

Figure of reliquary Kota Mahongwe
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Tribal art > African Reliquary > Kota Reliquary

Incarnating a founder of lineage, this work of great sobriety on its front face is characterized by a concave ogive face surmounted by a small tubular excrescence. The eyes are represented by cabochons pierced with a pupil on either side of a hooked nose. Copper threads line the surface, the whole evoking for some the naja snake. On the posterior part is concentrated an abundant ornamentation of imbricated motifs. 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. The cult of ancestors, the Bwete (North Kota), was at the heart ...

Figure of kota reliquary of the Bweete
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Tribal art > African Statues > Figure Kota

The Kota of the Sebe Valley, located in Gabon but also in Congo, produced this type of sculpture that played the role of "medium" between the living and the dead and continued to watch over their descendants. They are sometimes bifaces, the mbulu-viti , symbolizing the masculine and feminine aspect at the same time.
This type of coins, called ngulu, served as the relics over the baskets containing the mortuary remains of high-line ancestors. 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 staggering degree of stylization and abstraction: reduced to the ...

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Figure of reliquary Kota Obamba
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Tribal art > African Reliquary > Statue Kota

Obamba sculptural expression in African art

Effigie of ancestor Kota known mbulu-ngulu, its morphology is similar to the Obamba type. A concave face, from which the eyes pierce in cabochons, is haloed with a headdress with side fins. The set is plated with sheets and metal threads engraved with repulsed. The base that would appear the arms is only partially covered with metal.
This type of figure overcame the baskets in which the mortuary relics of the upper lineage ancestors were stored, playing the role of guardians named ngulu. In the exclusive presence of insiders, the clan's major decisions were made during ceremonies during which the reliquaries were taken out and used by the banganga . In order to reactivate the magical charge, the initiates rubbed the relic with ...

Kota reliquary statue of Bwété Mbulu viti
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Tribal art > African Reliquary > Kota Reliquary

This ritual sculpture, plated with brass-brass leaves according to the kota tradition, forms a stylized image of the ancestor, a coat of arms also for the clan, and is generally distinguished by the shape of the headdress, which varies according to the regions. The headdress here is a tubular growth, the face sculpted on the posterior face recalls the fang sculptures, and the main face, concave, adopts a hooked nose and bone eyes.
The Kota inhabit the eastern part of Gabon, which is rich in iron ore, and some in the Republic of Congo. The blacksmith, in addition to wood carving, made tools for agricultural work as well as ritual weapons. Sculptures playing the role of 'medium' between the living and the dead who watched over the descendants, were associated with the rites of the ...

Figure of Kota reliquary of the Bwété
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Tribal art > African Reliquary > Figure Kota

This ancestor figure, with an angled face, and a base offering a spectacular 'unhinged', certainly stands out from the classic pattern of kota reliquaries. The look of bone lozenges pierced with metal pupils, and the toothed mouth, the alternation of gilded, coppery metal, and the juxtaposition of geometric patterns, also give an expressive and lively character to an unexpected work.
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 the 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. Among the Kota, ...

Figure of reliquary Mahongwe biface
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Tribal art > African Reliquary > Mahongwe Reliquary

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 ...

Figure of Kota reliquary
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Tribal art > African Reliquary > Figure Kota

This sculpture depicts a concave face, capped with large extended side panels of two pendeloques. It is plated with copper and brass leaves that a discreet nailing makes adhere to the wooden soul. The set is animated by geometric patterns. The eyes surrounded by a resinous amalgam are made up of bone or horn washers. The Kota inhabit the eastern part of Gabon, which is rich in iron ore, and some in the Republic of Congo. The blacksmith, in addition to wood carving, made tools for agricultural work as well as ritual weapons. The sculptures, playing the role of "medium" between the living and the dead, who watched over the descendants, were associated with the rites of the bwete , comparable to those of the Fang . They are sometimes bifaces, mbulu-viti, symbolizing both the masculine and ...


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