H9M8S712.jpg (25276 bytes)H9M8S712S.jpg (23023 bytes)Mahongwe (Hongwe, Hungwe, Mahoungoue, Ossayeba), Gabon and Congo Republic

Reliquary figure. The Mahongwe numbering between 3,000 and 5,000 individuals constitute the northern branch of the Kota peoples. They inhabit the extreme northeast of Gabon near the Congo border. Ancestor worship formed the core of the family group’s religious and social life. At the death of a chief, the initiates would take from the body of the deceased various relics, which then decorated with metal and rubbed with powders of multiple magical powers. They would be kept in baskets surmounted by reliquary figures. Although recognizably human because of its eyes and nose, the ancestor’s face is highly formalistic. The Mahongwe covered these figurines with copper or brass. At the time of initiation in the ancestor cult, called the bwete, the clans would meet to perform communal rituals; each clan’s chief would dance holding the reliquary.

Material: wood, brass or copper sheeting

Size: 16”x 5”x 3”