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Lot n° 99

Rare figure of a Mbulu Viti biface reliquary,...

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Rare figure of a Mbulu Viti biface reliquary, Southern Kota area, Obamba people Obamba people (Gabon/Republic of Congo). Wood with beautiful patina of use, copper, brass, iron. Antique and authentic object. Height : 58 cm Bifacial reliquary figures are an uncommon representation (less than 1% of the corpus, according to Louis PERROIS, Kota 2012, pp 63-64), found among the Southern Kota on both sides of the border. Louis PERROIS reminds us that, according to the religious researcher Efraim ANDERSSON (1953, p. 342), it appears that bifacial reliquary figures are both older and more socially important than single-face figures. This very fine example, made of a wooden core plated with copper and brass, has a face with a prominent forehead decorated at the top with a very beautiful stepped motif that surmounts a concave face with pupils represented by Western-made iron screws. The crescent at the top is decorated with an elegant central motif in repoussé and two other curved lateral motifs, which also decorate the lateral parts surrounding the face. According to Louis PERROIS, this is a type of male representation. The second face on the back, which is feminine, is concave and decorated with a cruciform motif in the center of which the nose and eyes stand out, the pupils of which are represented by western iron screws similar to those on the opposite face. Provenance: SALEMBIER Collection, passed down through descent. Octave SALEMBIER was born in 1879. Following a love affair, he found himself exiled by administrative decision to the French Congo around 1898. Traveling the country like an explorer, in spite of himself, in order to purge this period of exile and work, he constituted what became the eponymous collection SALEMBIER. This collection, formerly exhibited in his house museum in Charleville-Mézières, almost entirely disappeared during the events of the First World War. Only these two Kota reliquaries have been preserved by the family to this day. One of them is shown in the photo of the collection in 1910.

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