African art > Statues > Statue Ambete

Statue Ambete, Mbete (N° 12923)

African art and reliquary figures of Gabon
This statue was part of the cult of the Ancestors Mbete, a dorsal cavity playing the role of reliquary. It was also placed near the baskets containing the bones. A load of plant fibres was introduced. The flat face has a characteristic appearance, with cauris evoking narrow, half-closed eyelids, a hollowed-out mouth in which sticks that are now absent evoked teeth, giving it a grimacing appearance.
attached to the prominent bust, the arms are folded at a right angle. The flexing of the legs would herald a ritual dance. The statue is decorated with motifs composed of parallel intersecting lines. Eroded surface with a dark brown patina, locally coated with kaolin. One foot has obviously been restored.

The Mbete form a people of Gabon, on the border of the Middle Congo, neighboring obamba, whose history has been marked by a long-running conflict against the Teke. They do not have a centralized political organization, practice the worship of ancestors and use statues instead of classical reliquary boxes.  

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Originex-collection Deray
EthnyAmbete
Countrygabon
Material(s)wood, cauris, plant fibre
Height55
Width16
Weight1.50 Kg
Estimated datingmid-xx°

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