Kota Reliquary figure

Mbulu Ngulu
Type: figure
Exhibits: Cycle of Life
Tribes: Kota peoples, Mindumu group
Location: Gabon
Period: 20th Century
Materials: Brass Sheets, Wood

Among the Kota, all images of Ancestors are positioned above ancestral baskets to which they were attached.  Kota figures have an oval face, curved coiffure and lateral flanges ending horizontally. They were named Mbulu-Ngulu, meaning: "The image of the dead". This "protective" or "guardian" figures were intended to ward off supernatural interference with the power of their relics in the reliquary basket. On occasion such as initiation rites, festivals or in times of misfortune, as infertility, hunger, death or sickness, the ancestor reliquaries were invoked, to magically strengthen the community, in ensuring their benevolent protection, bringing fertility, success and well-being to the community –reinforcing and assuring the flow of life (L.Segy, African sculpture speaks 1975:213).

Kota Reliquary figure
Kota Reliquary figure