Reliquary Guardian Figure
Artist/maker unknown, African, Gabon, Kota
This abstract, metal-wrapped guardian figure of the Kota people of Gabon once guarded a basket containing the remains of a notable individual. Relics of such people as spiritual leaders, powerful judges, and fertile women were kept by their relatives as protective devices. The use of metal sheathing, a costly medium, reflects the high status of the person whose bones were guarded and is a technique unique to this region of Gabon.