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African art - Reliquaries, statues:

In Africa, reliquaries are the guardians of buried ancestors. They may hold bones or the skulls of deceased dignitaries, chiefs or warriors, which are kept in sacred concessions. Reliquaries are also receptacles, often cylindrical wicker baskets, intended for the preservation of relics, a practice that is widespread in Central Africa among the Kota, Fang and Tsogho. Some reliquaries, such as the Ambete, are statues with a receptacle placed in the back.


Kota Mahongwe reliquary figure
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African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Mahongwe statue

This sculpture, "boho-na-bwete ", decorated with strips and copper wire, is a specificity MaHongwe of the extreme northeast of Gabon, on the border with Congo. Baskets containing the relics of illustrious ancestors, usually topped by two such reliquaries, were kept in village temples. One embodied the founder of the lineage, and the second his descendants. Ancestor worship, the bwete (Northern Kota) was indeed central to the social and religious life of the Kota . It has 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 the reliquaries were used. In order to reactivate its magical charge, the initiates rubbed the relic with sand. Among the Kota , these figures have reached an astounding ...

Kota reliquary figure from Bweete
African art > Reliquaries, statues > Kota Reliquary

This stylized wooden sculpture, decorated with copper leaves according to the Kota tradition, evokes the ancestor and forms a coat of arms for the clan. It is generally distinguished by the shape of the headdress, which varies according to the region.
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 woodcarving, 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 to the bwete , comparable to those of the Fang . They are sometimes bifacial,the mbulu-viti, symbolizing both the masculine and feminine aspect.

This type of coins, ...


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350.00

Byeri Fang reliquary ancestor statue
African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Fang statue

Fang statues within African art linked to the cult of the Byeri. This anthropomorphic sculpture, intended to be placed in a reliquary basket by the posterior stalk, has a concave face with a prognathic jaw. The importance of the lineage is symbolized by the umbilical tenon and the sex. Two-tone shiny patina, cracks and old restoration on the pelvis.
The boxes containing the relics of illustrious ancestors were guarded by the oldest man in the village, the "esa". Surmounted by a statue or a head that acted as a guardian of the "byeri" boxes, they were stored in a dark corner of the hut, supposed to divert evil influences to someone else. Samples were also taken from the figures for therapeutic purposes. They were also used during the initiation ceremonies of young people linked ...

Bamileke N  Ketuok reliquary statue
African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Bamileke statue

This carved figure ("N'Kétuok") embodying a male ancestor with a large ovoid head and a thick, stocky morphology, was carved in wood and then covered with a now-cracked clay coating.
A cavity for use as a reliquary was carved out of the back.
Among the Bamiléké as in other ethnic groups, art objects testified to their owner's place in society. Thus, the materials and forms of the objects varied according to social status. The king Bamiléké , also called fon, guarantor of the fertility of the soil and the protection of his subjects, was not considered mortal. Because of this, his funeral was a joyous celebration, with the fon simply physically retiring but still watching over his people from his new home. Located in the border region of Nigeria, Cameroon's Northwestern ...


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280.00

Figure of Reliquary Kota Mbulu-Ngulu
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African art > Reliquaries, statues > Kota Reliquary

This ritual sculpture, plated with copper 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 region. This variant is indeed distinguished by the spheres outlining the contours of the central face, an unusual decorative element.
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 woodcarving, 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 to the bwete, comparable to those of the Fang . They ...

Songye reliquary basket
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African art > Reliquaries, statues > Songye reliquary basket

Former Belgian private collection of African art Jan Putteneers.

In the centre of the room, there is a songye statuette with a face reminiscent of Kifwebe masks. This facies is also similar to that very geometric of some Nkisi protective fetishes.
The statuette is attached to a small terracotta clask itself placed among a multitude of offerings and libations accompanying a tangle of materials and strings.

The Songyes have created impressive statues with powerful features are often used during secret ceremonies, covered with accessories such as feathers, skin and a horn full of magic charge.
Very present in their society, divination allowed to discover the sorcerers and to shed light on the causes of the misfortunes that struck individuals.


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Figure of reliquary Kota Mbulu Ngulu
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African art > Reliquaries, statues > Kota Reliquary

A ritual, stylized figure embodying the ancestor, a coat of arms also for the clan, this sculpture is generally distinguished by the shape of the headdress, which varies according to region. 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 woodcarving, 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 to the bwete, comparable to those of the Fang . They are sometimes bifacial,the mbulu-viti, symbolizing both the masculine and feminine aspect. These types of pieces, named ngulu, acted as "guardians" of the relics above the baskets containing the mortal ...

Figure of Fang Ntumu ancestor of the Byeri
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African art > Reliquaries, statues > Fang statue

A prognathic jaw emphasizing a large pout, stocky and rounded limbs evoking the morphology of the newborn, this African sculpture illustrates the Ntumu style statuary of the regions between Gabon, Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. Shiny black patina, eroded areas.
Among the Fang of Cameroon and Gabon, each family has a "Byeri", or reliquary box, in which the bones of the ancestors are kept. These boxes were guarded by the oldest man in the village, the "esa". The reliquary boxes were surmounted by a statue or a head that acted as a guardian of the "byeri" boxes. These were kept in a dark corner of the hut, and were intended to divert evil influences to someone else. They were also used during the initiation ceremonies of young people linked to the "So" society. During the ...

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Kota Mbulu Ngulu reliquary figure
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African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Kota Reliquary

This ritual sculpture, plated with copper foil according to Kota tradition, forms a stylized image of the ancestor, a coat of arms also for the clan, and is usually distinguished by the shape of the headdress, which varies according to region.
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 woodcarving, 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 to the bwete , comparable to those of the Fang . They are sometimes bifacial,the mbulu-viti, symbolizing both the masculine and feminine aspect.

This type of coins, ...

Relic statue Mbete, Ambete
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African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Statue Ambete

Statues of ancestors in the African art of Mbede, Mbete, or AmbeteThe cult of ancestors, among the Mbete, is accompanied by carved figures frequently playing the role of reliquary. This statue has a dorsal cavity blocked by a shutter. A resin remains in the trunk. The flat side offers the characteristic details: narrow, semi-closed eyelids depicted by cauris, sheltered under slanted eyebrows, a triangular nose extending from the forehead, a narrow hollowed-out mouth. The hairstyle is arranged in braids gathered in shells. The arms on the chest are folded at a right angle. Semi-flexed muscular legs, carried by large feet, evoke a ritual dance. Grainy kaolin patina, chipped, and use of burgundy brown hues.
The Mbete form a people of Gabon, on the border of Middle Congo, neighbouring ...


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Figure of Kota reliquary
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African art > Reliquaries, statues > Kota Reliquary

Baskets containing the relics of illustrious ancestors, usually topped by two reliquaries, were kept in village temples. One embodied the founder of the lineage, and the second his descendants. The cult of ancestors, the bwete (Northern 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 initiates, the major decisions of the clan were made during ceremonies in which the reliquaries were brought out and used. In order to reactivate its magical charge, the initiates rubbed the relic with sand. Among the Kota , these figures have reached an astounding degree of stylization and abstraction: reduced to shoulders and "arms" surmounted by a large face, the latter may be concave (female) or convex ...


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Figure of reliquary Kota Obamba Mbulu-Ngulu
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African art > Reliquaries, statues > Kota Reliquary

This ritual sculpture, plated with copper-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 region. On this example a ridge separates the cabochon eyes in an ogival face, haloed by a headdress whose protrusion represents the ancient braided ibenda of dignitaries.
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 woodcarving, 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 to the bwete, ...

Figure of ancestor of reliquary Byeri Fang
African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Statue Fang

Ex-collection of French African art.

Several variants of Fang Byeri statues make up African art.
Female figure embodying an ancestor, éyéma-o-byeri , with an object of power, surmounting a projecting umbilicus. The voluminous head is strongly eroded: the Fang used to mix grated wood with their therapeutic remedies, which they ritually took from the sculptures. Oiled black patina.
The peoples known as the Fang, or "Pahouins", described as conquering warriors, invaded by successive leaps and bounds, from village to village, the entire vast region between the Sanaga in Cameroon and the Ogooué in Gabon, between the 18th and early 20th centuries.
Deep in their huts, in a dark and often smoky corner, the chiefs of lineages preciously stored their Byéri, the relic ...

Fang of Byeri Reliquary
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African art > Reliquaries, statues > Statue Fang

Pahoune sculpture in African art
Property of a Fang lineage, this high-walled bark receptacle, with two small coves, contained the relics of the ancestors, whose spirit is represented by the figures depicted sitting on the lid. One of the guardians solemnly presents an offering horn. Attributes such as the protruding ventral capsule, the crest cap, the multiple necklaces, and the frequent ornamentation of brass nails, distinguish the tribal statuary of the Fang.Wood samples were taken for ritual purposes. Brilliant mahogany brown skate. In the Fang of Cameroon and those of Gabon, each family has a "Byeri", or reliquary box, in which the bones of the ancestors are preserved. These boxes were guarded by the oldest man in the village, the "esa". The reliquary boxes were topped with a ...


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Fang of the Byeri Reliquary Keeper
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African art > Reliquaries, statues > Statue Fang

The African art of the worship of Byeri is illustrated by various anthropomorphic sculptures acting as "garde" and embodying the ancestor. The boxes containing the relics of illustrious ancestors were kept by the oldest man in the village, the "esa". Surmounted by a statue or head that acted as the guardian of the boxes "byeri", they were stored in a dark corner of the box, supposed to divert evil influences to someone else. They were also used during the initiation ceremonies of young people linked to the society " So". During the holidays, the statues were separated from their boxes and paraded. Pre-events were carried out on some statues for therapeutic purposes.
This statuette was intended to be in a basket-reliquaire by the posterior peduncle. Glossy dark patina.
The ...

Relic figure Mashango Bumba
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African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Mashango Reliquary

Rare reliquary sculpture devoid of the crescent crest usually accompanying this type of pieces. The front of the oval face tilts backwards to extend with a multi-hulled hairstyle. The spectacular neck is also encased with strips of copper and hammered brass. The base of the object is damaged.
Among the shira-punu group, the Massango , Mashango , have established themselves on the Chaillu massif in Gabon and in the province of Ngounié. The use of the bone baskets of the deceased, on which sculptures of this type stood, was widespread throughout Gabon, the Fang, the Kota, but also the Mitsogho and the Massango , in which this cult takes the name of Bumba . The sculptures playing the role of "medium" between the living and the dead who watched over the descendants, were associated with ...

Fang wooden box
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African art > Used objects, pulleys, boxes, loom, awale > Fang Box



This container has a lid topped with three stylized faces reminiscent of the guardian heads of the byeri reliquary. Three fang figures with protective virtues, arms bent, hands clasped, adorn the walls of the box. Since the reliquary boxes contain the bones of the ancestors are most often made up of bark, this wooden sculpture could also have been used as a medicine container or a box dedicated to divination. The internal walls are lined with residues of yellow ochre vegetable oil.
Geometric patterns and parallel lines are engraved on the matte surface. Desication cracks. Indigenous restorations using metal staples.
The peoples known as Fang, or "Pahouins", described as conquering warriors, invaded in successive leaps, from villages to villages, the entire vast ...


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Couple of relic statues Ambete, Mbete
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African art > Reliquaries, statues > Ambete reliquaries

The variety of reliquaries in the African art of Mbete, Ambete .
The Mbete are known for their antropomorphic statues participating in the cult of ancestors on which a reliquary has been built. Their cylindrical abdomen contains, on the back, a cavity sealed by a door in which were preserved small bones of the ancestors of lineage. The diamond face under a crenellated hairstyle depicting the braids has pupils indicated by beads. Attached to the bust, the arms are classically folded at right angles on a trunk that sports a red ochre patina usually extracted from a crushed bark on which remains kaolin. The legs are hidden under a thick raffia loincloth. Desication cracks.

The Mbete are a people from neighbouring Gabon of the Obamba, whose history has been marked by a ...

Pair of Fang Byeri pulleys
African art > Reliquaries, statues > Fang reliquaries

The African art of the cult of Byeri is illustrated by various anthropomorphic sculptures acting as 'guardians' and embodying the ancestor. Ancient loom pulleys fang, adorned with statuettes of reliquary keepers. Beautiful satin patina, residue of abrased polychromy. Erosions of use.
The boxes containing the relics of illustrious ancestors were kept by the oldest man in the village, the esa. Surmounted by a statue or head that acted as the guardian of the 'byeri' boxes, they were stored in a dark corner of the box, supposed to divert evil influences to someone else. They were also used during the initiation ceremonies of young people linked to society. So, so. During the holidays, the statues were separated from their boxes and paraded. Pre-events were carried out on some statues ...


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Ambete reliquary statue, Mbte
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African art > Reliquaries, statues > Ambete Reliquary

Statues of ancestors forming reliquary in the African art of Mbede, Mbete, or Ambete.
This statue has a hollowed-out chest bust for the relics of the ancestors. At the top of the lid the hairstyle consists of parallel sagittal crests and bells adorn the ears. The arms are folded at right angles. Semi-flexed muscular legs, carried by wide feet, one of which has been restored, evoke a ritual dance. Metal sheets are used on the face and arms and punctuate the contours of the lid. Red ochre highs, low kaolin resodus. Erosions, missing on a ridge. Metal staples at the cracks.
The Mbete form a people from Gabon, neighbouring the Obamba and Pounou, on the border of The Middle Congo, whose history has been marked by a long-running conflict against the Teke. They do not have a ...

Figure of reliquary Kota Ngulu
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African art > Reliquaries, statues > Kota Reliquary

This ritual sculpture, plated with copper 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 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 bwete, comparable to those of the Fang . They are sometimes bifaces, mbulu-viti, symbolizing both the masculine and feminine aspects. This type of coin, called ngulu, served as a ...





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