Reliquary Guardian Figure

Exhibits: Ancestor Cult
Tribes: Kota peoples, Ndassa / Wumbu group
Location: Gabon / Republic of Congo
Period: 20th Century
Materials: Brass Strips and Plates, Brass Tacks, Buttons, Copper Sheets, Iron, Wood

From a two-dimensional structure emerges an elliptical face in the round, with a convex forehead and concave heart-like lower part, from the brows to the chin’s base. Fine metalwork is applied to the representation. A unique coiffure is composed of heart-like subdivided lobes. The external crescent is brass sheeted, accented with a lozenge motive, and the inner lobe, in greater relief, is covered with a flat copper sheet, enveloping and emphasizing the face. The red copper accentuates a vertical medial-axis, from the forehead’s apex down the nose, and then continues from beneath it down the chin’s base, including a tiny open empty mouth with sharp teeth. The elliptical horizontal copper eyes are the focus of this composition. A pair of tab-like units projecting from both sides, may present the ears. Metallic bands coiled the cylindrical neck, and the open-work lozenge suffers from hard erosion. On the reverse side, the exposed wood’s center is decorated in lozenge motive, carved in relief.


A. LaGamma, Eternal Ancestors, 2007, p.242-3

 Reliquary Guardian Figure
 Reliquary Guardian Figure
 Reliquary Guardian Figure
 Reliquary Guardian Figure