African art > Reliquaries, statues > Reliquary Kota

Reliquary Kota (N° 23663)

This African sculpture, "boho-na-bwete", plated with copper leaves and wire, is a specificity Mahongwe of the extreme northeast of Gabon, bordering the Congo. Topped with a small tubular protrusion, the pointed face surmounting a long neck offers cabochons figuring the eyes framing a flat nose. The baskets containing the relics of illustrious ancestors, generally surmounted by two reliquaries of this type, were kept in temples in the village. One of them embodied the founder of the lineage, and the second his descendants.
Ancestor worship, the bwete (Northern Kota) was indeed at the heart of the social and religious life of the Kota. It 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 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: reduced to shoulders and "arms" surmounted by a large face, the latter can be concave (feminine) or convex (male).  

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OriginEx-collection française
EthnyKota
Countrygabon
Material(s)wood, metal
Height cm61
Width22 cm
Weight2.65 Kg
Estimated datingcirca 1960
Socle includedYes

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