African art > Reliquary > Ambete Reliquary
Ambete reliquary statue, Mbte (N° 17627)
Statues of ancestors forming reliquary in the African art of Mbede, Mbete, or Ambete.
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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 centralized political organization and worship ancestors.
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