African art > Door and shutter > Kota Gate
Kota Sculpted Door (N° 16411)
This six-panel door evokes the memory of illustrious ancestors, by depicting motifs depicting the carved effigies named mbulu-ngulu, which were placed on the reliquary baskets containing the bones of prestigious forebears. These stylized figures, plated in brass-brass according to the kota tradition, form a stylized image of the ancestor, a coat of arms also for the clan, and are generally distinguished by the shape of the headdress, which varies by region. The figures on this piece of furniture are decorated in engraved geometric patterns, stars and diamonds. The surface is covered with white pigments and, very locally, indigo. The two central doors, with handles, are kept closed thanks to two locks on the back. The Kota live in 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 the masculine and feminine aspect at the same time. This type of coin was used in the preservation of mortuary remains of high-lineage ancestors in baskets topped with sculptures. 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 magic charge, the initiates rubbed the relic with sand. In the Kota, these figures have reached a degree of stylization and amazing abstraction: reduced to the shoulders and to the "Bras" topped by a large face, the latter can be concave (female) or convex (male).
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