Tsogho Reliquary Figure

Mbumba Bwete
Type: figure
Exhibits: Cycle of Life
Tribes: Tsogho peoples
Location: Mimongo region, Gabon
Period: Mid 20th Century
Materials: Brass, Brass Discs, Mirror Glass, Pigments, Wood

This reliquary bust,set a atop a basket containing fragments of ancestral bones of venerated forebears of the community- called Mbumba Bwiti, served as a reliquary guardian.The statue was used to evoke Bwete, which in Tsogho society meant the spirit mediating between the divine and the initiated members of the association. The Mbumba Bwiti also served therapeutic purposes in the hands of the healers of the Ombwiri society. This statue is characterized by a truncated body framed by two diminutive arms, with hands clenched in front of the chest in a ritual gesture. The Mbumba Bwiti deliberately portrayed as half figure, since the basket securing the relics was joined the carving and becoming the “stomach” or the body of the ancestor figure. Characteristic feature is a brass band bisecting the forehead and brass for the oval eyes. Shining metal serving to cast away lurking evil forces from the sacred relics it guards. The red color refers to the blood, the life force - to increase power, its mystical force, nyama (Bacquart 1998:116-7; A. LaGamma 2007:280)

Tsogho Reliquary Figure
Tsogho Reliquary Figure
Tsogho Reliquary Figure
Tsogho Reliquary Figure