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HOME : Decorative Arts : African Sculptures : Mbete Reliquary Standing Female Figure
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Mbete Reliquary Standing Female Figure - DC.1111
Origin: Gabon or Republic of Congo
Circa: 20 th Century AD

Collection: African Art
Medium: wood, brass, fiber,
Condition: Very Fine

Location: United States
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The Mbete group of the Kota peoples reside in Gabon and the Republic of Congo in Africa. The figurative sculptures created by the Mbete evoke the lasting ties linking the realms between the living and dead while keeping the secret materials of ancestral veneration within the relic itself. Unlike other regional reliquary ensembles from the Fang and Kota peoples where relics were attached within a packet or affixed to a sculpture, the Mbete fully integrated the two by concealing the relics within the figure usually in a cavity found in the back.

This magnificent creation fuses the aesthetic of two dimensional Kota ancestral representations, which exploit the application of precious metal to a wood surface, with a full body figurative form of Mbete receptacles.

The core of the figure is flanked by rigid arms, which forms an almost barrel like cylinder. The brass which is fitted to the body from head to toe features incised decorations and small breasts. The face features a convex dome shaped forehead and double arc eyebrows over large oval eyes. The mouth is open and features small iron teeth while semicircular ears are positioned on each side of the head. Around the neck, waist and ankles are various articles made of metal and fiber. An open receptacle on the back contains the relics and fetish materials such as nails, fiber and a miniature wooden ancestral figure.
- (DC.1111)


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