Reintegration / Ancestors

By Monica Demott
(formerly University of Iowa)

Gabon; Kota-Obamba peoples

Mbulu Ngulu (reliquary guardian figure)

Wood, brass

H. 61.3 cm (24")

The University of Iowa Museum of Art, The Stanley Collection, X1986.283

The lavish use of copper and brass, which were highly valued in Gabon in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, signifies the importance of these guardians (Perrois 1985: 32) and suggested that they were prestige objects that proclaimed the wealth of their clan.  The reliquaries were intended to be viewed from the front, as is evidenced by the rough finish and lack of decoration on the back of the figure.