Reintegration / Ancestors

By Monica Demott
(formerly University of Iowa)

GabonKota-Mahongwe peoples

Reliquary guardian

Wood, brass

H. 54 cm (21 1/4")

Seattle Art Museum, Gift of Katherine White and the Boeing Company, 81.17.786 

In a Kota village, all of the reliquaries were placed together in a small shelter just outside of the compound.  Within the semi-darkness of the shelter, the brass and copper would have caught and reflected light.  We know that the gleam of the metal was desired, for the reliquary guardians were periodically scrubbed with sand to remove tarnish (Perrois 1985: 41).  As the metal reflected light, it may have also served as a mechanism for deflecting unwanted visitors.