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The Kota people of Gabon once used reliquary guardian figures (mbulu ngulu) to protect and demarcate the revered bones of family ancestors. The bones were preserved in containers made of bark, wood or basketry, the mbulu ngulu standing on top of the container. It is thought that the figurative form of the mbulu ngulu was intended to reinforce and communicate the reliquary’s intense power. These ancestors, the great personages of the local lineage, were called upon to assist the living in solving critical problems and in dealing with issues of importance to the village. The mbulu ngulu would be consulted when the village was to change location, when a new crop was planted, during community disputes, or before going hunting, fishing, or to war. Once separated from the reliquary chest, the sculpted object would lose its sacred value.
Size: 580mm x 210mm x 200mm
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