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Reliquary figure - Kota Mbede - Gabon
Ancestral cult objects in traditional African art in Gabon
The reliquary statues of Mbede also called Mbete, Ambete (subgroup Kota) has a dorsal cavity as is the case here, arranged in the thickness of the trunk and closed by a flap attached by plant links. Here, the component and its links are still very present. The shutter is here again sealed.
Note that out of respect for its owner and to respect the integrity of the object, we did not attempt to open it.
This cavity was a reliquary cache to preserve fragments of human and animal bones as well as magic ingredients.
The statue itself is an ancestor, here male. We find in the pace of the room the classic position of Byeri guardians of the Fang, compact body, arms flexed along the body, legs also bent.
The common point of reliquaries Mbede is the headdress with a sagittal ridge.
The face is very expressive here: the mouth is embellished with iron teeth, eyes reinforced by cowries. This disturbing expression was likely intended to ward off evil spirits and thus to watch over the remains of the deceased.
The patina is crusty.
African reliquary statue in the style of that collected by Aristide Courtois (1883-1961). Inv. 1019-86 Barbier-Mueller Museum.
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