MaHongwe-Style Reliquary Figure

20th Century
$3,280 USD
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W: 5.5" D: 7.0" H: 21.0"
Mixed Materials
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This compelling abstract form is attributed to the MaHongwe people in north Gabon, a subpopulation of the Kota in the same region. Sculpted of a wooden form wrapped in metal wire, this work recreates the reliquary figures of "bwete" ancestor practices. Such figures would have been placed above a basket containing ancestral relics, and represented the founder of the familial lineage.

The highly abstracted ancestor figures are nonetheless sculpted with fantastic detail. Radiating from a central pair of eyes and nose, hammered wire densely wraps around the figure's head, continuing down to the body and up towards a tuft of hair. The wooden base is enclosed with a layer of thin copper sheet metal, decorated on front and back with a round face with two piercing eyes.

Coiled wire has unraveled around the neck. Moderate wear and verdigris oxidation.

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