African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Ambete reliquary
Ambete reliquary (N° 22595)
Statues of ancestors in the African art of Mbede, Mbete, or Ambete.
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Ancestor worship among the Mbete is accompanied by sculpted figures frequently playing the role of reliquary. This statuette offers for this purpose a dorsal cavity encrusted with residual pink ocher pigments. The barrel-shaped morphology and the flat, stylized face, topped with a crest, are specific features of the ambete sculpture. This copy also wears braided raffia accessories, mats, choker and small loincloth.
Grainy patina, desiccation cracks.
The Mbete form a tribe of Gabon, on the border of the Middle Congo, close to the Obamba and the Pounou, whose history has been marked by a long-term conflict against the Teke. They do not have a centralized political organization, practice ancestor worship.
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