Reliquary Guardian Figure

Artist/maker unknown, African, Gabon, Kota

Made in Kota, Gabon, Africa

Late 19th century

Copper alloy and wood

23 x 11 3/4 inches (58.4 x 29.8 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of The Judith Rothschild Foundation, 2007

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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.