Janus reliquary figure, mbulu-viti, Obamba-Wumbu... - Lot 43 - Binoche et Giquello

Lot 43
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Estimation :
120000 - 150000 EUR
Result with fees
Result : 148 120EUR
Janus reliquary figure, mbulu-viti, Obamba-Wumbu... - Lot 43 - Binoche et Giquello
Janus reliquary figure, mbulu-viti, Obamba-Wumbu group, Kota,
Haut-Ogooué, eastern Gabon,
Atlantic equatorial Africa
Wooden core, brass and iron plates and strips
Late 19th - early 20th century
H. 67 cm - W. 43.3 cm - D. 13 cm
Bifacial reliquary figure, mbulu-viti, Obamba-Wumbu group, Kota, Upper-Ogooué, Oriental Gabon, Atlantic Equatorial Africa
Wood, brass plates and slides
H. 26 2/5 in
Provenance:
- Collected at the village Masango, Haut-Ogooué, around 1962, by Dr Jean-Claude Andrault
- Former Ruhard collection, Paris (1975).
Publication:
- Fondation Dapper, La voie des ancêtres, 1986, catalogue, p. 44 (ill. no. 44).
- Marceau Rivière, Les chefs-d'œuvre africains dans les collections françaises, Editions Philbi, Paris, 1975, p. 132 (Collection Ruhard, Paris)
According to surveys by the Swedish missionary Efraïm Andersson among the Kota of the former French Congo, around 1935, two-faced reliquary figures are both older and socially more important than one-faced figures (Andersson, 1953, p. 342) in several of the "Kota" groups, the Obamba as well as the Wumbu and the Ndasa. Their great ritual value would have led to their rarity in western collections, since these ancestor figures, called mbulu-viti, have always been difficult to observe in the field, let alone to purchase. Although specialists estimate the number of "Kota" reliquary figures reported in Western collections since the end of the nineteenth century to be around five thousand, it is noted that the two-sided figures identified and published constitute a series of references of only a few dozen specimens for the Obamba/Ndumu/Wumbu. Although there are most certainly a few more unpublished ones here and there, this amounts to a tiny proportion.
Some informants, not only from Rev. Andersson in Congo (Andersson, 1974, p.164) but also from myself in eastern Gabon in the 1970s, indicated that the Kota figures with concave faces with la
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