African art > Reliquaries, statues > Kota Reliquary
Kota reliquary figure from Bweete (N° 20705)
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.
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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, named ngulu, acted as "guardians" of the relics above the baskets containing the mortal remains of high lineage ancestors. In the exclusive presence of initiates, major clan decisions 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.
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