20 3/4 in. x 11 1/8 in. x 1 3/4 in. (52.71 cm x 28.26 cm x 4.45 cm)
Africa, Gabon, Republic of Congo
Medium and Support
wood, copper, brass on wooden base
Museum Purchase, Florence C. Quinby Fund, in memory of Henry Cole Quinby, Honorary Degree, 1916
This reliquary figure represents an idealized face demonstrating the power of its owner’s ancestors. Once kept with a box containing bones of these ancestors and used for ancestral veneration, these sculptures are now used to invoke and celebrate precolonial tradition. With colonization and conversion to Christianity in the early to mid-twentieth century, many people in Kota regions sold their reliquary figures to foreign collectors, leaving fewer historical works in these regions. Such changes indicate how various people have transformed the uses of reliquary figures.
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