African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Statue Ambete
Statue Ambete, Mbete (N° 14495)
The variety of reliquaries in the African art of Mbede, Mbete, or Ambete
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The cult of ancestors, among the Mbete, is accompanied by these statues whose dorsal cavity plays the role of reliquary. However, this copy is devoid of it. The flat face has a characteristic appearance, with cauris evoking narrow, half-closed eyelids, a hollowed-out mouth in which sticks sometimes appear on the teeth, giving a grimacing appearance. The hairstyle is arranged in braids gathered in crest. Attached to the swollen bust, the arms are folded at a right angle. The flexing of the muscular legs heralds a ritual dance. Geometric patterns are carved on the forehead and abdomen.
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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