Bwiti Reliquary Figure

P R O V E N A N C E: Old Dutch private collection, van de M.; Mijdrecht, The Netherlands

Gabon, Mahongue
Wood and copper sheets, high 54 cm.
Iron stand

Bwiti Reliquary Figure, the fragmentary base leading to an elongated cylindrical neck encircle by numerous bands of brass wire beneath a convex abstract head with elongated nose flanked by attached circular button eyes beneath a flattened medial panel at the front and a broad panel with three raised vertical strips at the back, and covered with fine strips of bras wire covering the entire surface and encircling the finial above, embossed geometric pattern on the reverse; fine age patina.

* For comparison of the design motif on the front of this figure, incorporating a zigzag formed by the attached of the wire to the central panel on the front see Musèe Barbier-Mueller, Genève

¹ Mahongue artists were able to make highly stylized and abstract representations of the human face as in this guardian figure. The figures were covered with copper sheet and wires which gave them a shiny appearance.

– ¹ From Jean-Baptiste Bacquart, The Tribal Arts of Africa

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