African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Mashango Reliquary

Mashango Reliquary (N° 16726)

Rare reliquary sculpture devoid of the crescent crest usually accompanying this type of pieces. The front of the oval face tilts backwards to extend with a multi-hulled hairstyle. The spectacular neck is also encased with strips of copper and hammered brass. The base of the object is damaged.
Among the shira-punu group, the Massango , Mashango , have established themselves on the Chaillu massif in Gabon and in the province of Ngounié. The use of the bone baskets of the deceased, on which sculptures of this type stood, was widespread throughout Gabon, the Fang, the Kota, but also the Mitsogho and the Massango , in which this cult takes the name of Bumba . The sculptures playing the role of "medium" between the living and the dead who watched over the descendants, were associated with the rites in the bwete the Kota, comparable to those of the Fang. They are sometimes bifaces, mbulu-viti , symbolizing the masculine and feminine aspect at the same time. The cult of ancestors, the bwete (North Kota) was at the heart of the social and religious life of the Kota and has many analogies with that of the Fang. 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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Originex-collection monégasque
Material(s)metal et wood
Height cm63
Width20 cm
Weight2.58 Kg
Estimated datingmid-xx°
Socle includedYes

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