African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Statue Ambete
Relic statue Mbete, Ambete (N° 16342)
Statues of ancestors in the African art of Mbede, Mbete, or AmbeteThe cult of ancestors, among the Mbete, is accompanied by carved figures frequently playing the role of reliquary. This statue has a dorsal cavity blocked by a shutter. A resin remains in the trunk. The flat side offers the characteristic details: narrow, semi-closed eyelids depicted by cauris, sheltered under slanted eyebrows, a triangular nose extending from the forehead, a narrow hollowed-out mouth. The hairstyle is arranged in braids gathered in shells. The arms on the chest are folded at a right angle. Semi-flexed muscular legs, carried by large feet, evoke a ritual dance. Grainy kaolin patina, chipped, and use of burgundy brown hues.
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The Mbete form a people of Gabon, on the border of Middle Congo, neighbouring the Obamba and Pounou, whose history has been marked by a long-running conflict against the Teke. They do not have a centralized political organization, they practice the worship of ancestors.
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