Reliquary Figure

Mbulu Ngulu
Exhibits: Ancestor Cult
Tribes: Kota peoples, Ndassa group
Location: Gabon
Period: Early 20th Century
Materials: Brass Nails, Brass Plaques, Copper Nails, Copper Strips, Wood

Among the Kota, all images of ancestors are positioned above the ancestral baskets (usuwu) to which they are attached (A. LaGamma). The head of this ancestral representation features a face consisting of double planes. The first is a high broad convex forehead, projecting above a lower convex half. The facial features are concentrated. Just below the arched brows the puffed cheeks begin with a raised triangular nose and a raised square open mouth. The large oval eyes are brass elements applied to the face with copper nails. The forehead is adorned with an engraved broad band of double lozenge rows, and a thin copper band with raised dots. The pyramidal brass upper crescent spans the crown of the head and is adorned with a band of engraved striated triangles, as well as a thin incised striated band on the lower contour. The lateral wings at the sides of the face are subdivided into an inner layered crescent, and the smooth, unadorned brass terminates in a typical outward flourish. The lozenge motif across the forehead is repeated in the metalwork around the cylindrical neck. The open-work lozenge base extending from the neck is badly eroded except for a striated brass sheet bisected by a diagonal line, slightly raised.


A. LaGamma, Eternal Ancestors, 2007, p.260.

Reliquary Figure
Reliquary Figure
Reliquary Figure
Reliquary Figure