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Reliquary Figure (Mbulu Ngulu)

Arts of Africa

The Kota believe that the bones of important men and women retain power after death, providing protection and good fortune to an individual's descendants. The bones are preserved in reliquaries made of bark or basketry. On top are placed figures known as bwiti. This bwiti typifies the Kota style. The face is covered with strips of hammered brass and copper. The neck swells into an open lozenge shape, the lower part of which is thrust into the container of bones forming its "body."

MEDIUM Wood, copper alloy, copper, accumulated/applied materials
  • Place Made: Gabon
  • DATES late 19th-early 20th century
    DIMENSIONS 20 3/4 x 8 3/8 x 2 1/4 in. (52.7 x 21.3 x 5.9 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Arturo and Paul Peralta-Ramos
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Kota (Ndumu or Obamba subgroup). Reliquary Figure (Mbulu Ngulu), late 19th-early 20th century. Wood, copper alloy, copper, accumulated/applied materials, 20 3/4 x 8 3/8 x 2 1/4 in. (52.7 x 21.3 x 5.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Arturo and Paul Peralta-Ramos, 56.6.19. Creative Commons-BY
    IMAGE overall, 56.6.19_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Ancestral figure, concave geometric face type, eyes and nose raised, crest above head, body diamond shaped; surfaces covered with hammered metal or metal strips. CONDITION: Good.
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    Reliquary Figure (Mbulu Ngulu)