African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Mahongwe statue
Kota Mahongwe reliquary figure (N° 14563)
This sculpture, "boho-na-bwete ", decorated with strips and copper wire, is a specificity MaHongwe of the extreme northeast of Gabon, on the border with Congo. Baskets containing the relics of illustrious ancestors, usually topped by two such reliquaries, were kept in village temples. One embodied the founder of the lineage, and the second his descendants.
Ancestor worship, the bwete (Northern Kota) was indeed central to 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 made during ceremonies in which the reliquaries were used. In order to reactivate its magical 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 may be concave (female) or convex (male).
Capped with a small tubular protrusion, the ogival face surmounting a long neck offers cabochons representing the eyes, on either side of a pointed nose. The metal plating alternates harmoniously.
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|Origin||Collection Gerard Haquet|
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