African art > Reliquary > Kota Reliquary
Figure of Kota reliquary (N° 17848)
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 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. In the Kota , these figures have achieved a staggering degree of stylization and abstraction: reduced to the shoulders and arms surmounted by a large face, the latter can be concave (female) or convex (male). The face in warhead separated from a contrasting middle edge offers here two bone cabochons eyes with a metallic pupil. Thin strips of copper alternate on the surface mattified by sand that was supposed to reactivate the magical power of the reliquary.
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