African art > Reliquaries, statues > Kota Reliquary
Figure of Kota reliquary (N° 19909)
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 (male). The ogival face separated by a median ridge of contrasting color offers here two cabochon eyes pierced by a metallic pupil. The copper plates alternate on the surface matted with sand that was supposed to reactivate the magical power of the reliquary.
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