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Lot: 330

85th Tribal Art Auction

Reliquary guardian figure "mbulu-ngulu" ("spirit of a deceased")

Gabon, Kota

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
La Reine Margot, Paris, France
Hermann auf der Heide (1934-2003), Northern Germany
H: 18.7 inch 10000 EUR
plus 21 % commission, VAT, transport and insurance

wood, metal clamps, the front surface entirely coated with brass sheet, convex oval face in the centre, defined by features applied to the surface, diagonal striations in repoussé, crescent-shaped lateral wings with an outward flourish at the base, knob-shaped projection on the head, rising from diamond-shaped neck, reverse side without metal overlay, provided with lozenge-shaped emblem with raised middle ridge, slightly dam., rep. (breakage at the tip of the left side wing fixed by metal clamp), abrasion of paint, metal base; the ancestral cult forms the centre of the religious and social life within the family collective. When a patriarch died various relics were taken from his body and were kept in wickerwork baskets "usuwu" with stylized figures on top. Each family clan owned such a reliquary ensemble, which were all kept in the background of the chiefs hut. At initiation rites the family clans gathered and each clan leader performed a dance holding the respective reliquary in his hands.