African art > Reliquary > Statue Kota
Reliquary figure Kota Mbulu Ngulu (N° 14934)
With large, flat side shells extended with two pendeloques, this singular concave face overhanging an ovoid forehead is plated with gold copper sheets. A fine cling makes the whole thing adhere to the wooden soul. The ensemble is highlighted with carefully engraved geometric and punctiform motifs, composing friezes embellishing the sculpture. The base is eroded. The Kota of the Sebe Valley, located in Gabon but also in Congo, produced this type of sculpture that played the role of "medium" between the living and the dead and continued to watch over their descendants. They are sometimes bifaces, the mbulu-viti , symbolizing the masculine and feminine aspect at the same time. This type of coin was used in the preservation of mortuary remains of high-lineage ancestors in baskets topped with very specific sculptures, which played the role of guardians of relics named ngulu. 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 magic charge, the initiates rubbed the relic with sand. In the Kota, these figures have reached a degree of stylization and amazing abstraction: reduced to the shoulders and to the "Bras" topped by a large face, the latter can be concave (female) or convex (male).
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