African art > Reliquaries, statues > Kota reliquary
Kota Mbulu ngulu reliquary figure (N° 21954)
The baskets containing the relics of illustrious ancestors, generally surmounted by two reliquaries, were kept in the temples of the village. One of them embodied the founder of the lineage, and the second his descendants.
Ancestor worship, 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 taken during ceremonies during which the reliquaries were taken out and used. In order to reactivate the magic charge, the initiates rubbed the relic with sand. Among the Kota, these figures have reached an astounding degree of stylization and abstraction: The bulbous forehead extended by a geometric nose surmounts cabochon eyes pierced with a metallic pupil. The "body" is summarized in a diamond. The copper plates alternate on the surface matified by the sand, the latter being supposed to reactivate the magic power of the reliquary.
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