Kota Obamba
Reliquary Figure

Archives | Gabon

Kota Obamba
Reliquary Figure

Gabon

Sculpted wood, copper and brass
19th century
Height: 24 in

Collected between 1904 and 1912 by Mr Alfred Poupon, Chief Administrator of the French Colonies in Equatorial Africa
Ex collection Philippe Guimiot

Published: Pad London, 2014
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This sculpture is a major African art piece.
This ritual figure, called Mbulu Ngulu, was used to protect the relics of an important ancestor.
It has impressive dimensions with perfect balance and a rich carved ornamentation.
The quality of the work (woodcarving as well as repoussé work on the copper) is noteworthy.
A second face (carved on brass) can be seen above the lozenge.

This powerfully expressive Mbulu Ngulu conveys a superb sense of interiority.
It was collected in Gabon by Alfred Poupon (Administrator in Chief of the colonies in French Equatorial Africa) between 1904 and 1912. It was later in the collection of Philippe Guimiot and then went to one of the finest private collections of Gabon art in Paris.

The deep patina and style of this figure attest to its ritual nature and great age. In his certificate, Philippe Guimiot dates it back to the mid 19th century, which explains its perfect quality of sculpture.
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