Lot: 234

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

Gabon, Kota, Obamba group

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
Everett Burton Helm, Minneapolis/Berlin, USA/ Germany

Helm (1913-1999) was an American composer, musicologist and music critic. He studied at Harvard, and then after having been awarded a travel fellowship, with Gian Francesco Malipiero in Asolo, Italy and Ralph Vaughan Williams in England. In 1948, he was appointed Music Officer for the occupying US army in Germany.
From 1950 and into the 1960s, Helm worked as a music critic in Germany. In parallel, he was composing. The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra commissioned and premiered his First Piano Concerto in 1951, the same year as his first opera, Adam and Eve, was performed at the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden.
H: 19.7 inch 12000 EUR / 35000 EUR

wood, brass and copper sheet, nails, 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.


LaGamma, Alisa (ed.), Eternal Ancestors, New York 2007, p. 259