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Reliquary, Post-Colonial period, Kota Bwiti, from Gabon This reliquary mask is made of wood, with slab brass and copper on the face.
Kota reliquary figure is known as Bwiti. Carved wood covered with copper and brass metal strips, engraved with geometric patterns. Concave, oval-shaped face bisected with two broad metal strips; the remainder of the face covered with horizontally placed narrow metal strips. Almond-shaped eyes, nail heads as pupils. Nose pointed dihedral shape, no mouth. "Extended elephant ears" with pendant earring of engraved metal strips. Crescent-shaped headdress engraved along the outer edge. Neck covered with a single metal strip, engraved. The diamond-shaped lower portion of sculpture, top half-covered with a metal strip, lower portion wood left uncovered.
The memory of ancestors is religiously kept in each family: we pass on fetishes, ornaments, weapons. Failure to honor the memory of the dead parents, they would avenge themselves with an inevitable punishment,” he notes scrupulously in his famous work Au cœur ck d'Afrique. But, where the Fang artists showed their inclination for powerful round bumps, the Kota admitted, for their part, a clear predilection for abstraction and stylization. Covered with thin strips of copper and brass, their reliquary figures surprise by their two-dimensional character, quite rare in African art. A charming engraving, published in 1888 in the review Le Tour du Monde, however, places them in their original context: gathered in a small hut, sheltered from profane and unclean eyes, they capped the bark boxes conserving the skulls and bones. important members of the tribe.
Far, far from these ethnological considerations, collectors and artists of the early twentieth century especially appreciated, in these eminently decorative sculptures, the strange flat, ovoid face punctuated by the two large circular eyes of these "guardians of the forces of the world. 'Beyond.
Title: - Kota reliquary Bwiti, Gabon - African Art Tribal Art
Date/Period: 20th century
Origin: Gabon - Kota
Dimension: 27.02 Inch H X 12.02 W
Weight: 6.2 Pounds
Material: Wood, Copper
Acquisition: Private collection / Cambridge MA