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Very Rare Reliquary Basket (Mbumba Bwiti) - MITSOGHO - southern Gabon

Lot reference 11951075

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In good condition, must be dated back to the 1920 - 1930 when the before very isolated area was finally opened up.

The rather roughly worked and finished guardian sculptures of the Mitsogho are made by non-specialists. They are normally just torso's or busts planted into baskets filled with relics and magical substances. Here we have an asymmetrical figure with a face whitened with clay, much like a priest would have before opening a ritual. The head is clearly oversized to stress its importance as the center of knowledge, wisdom and life. The domed forehead bulges over the double arch of the eyebrows. The eyes are inset with pieces of glass. The elegant nose has a low bridge and indicated nostrils. The smiling V-shaped mouth protrudes over the pointed chin. The ears are semicircular. Coiffure is made of three layers of pending braids in series of five each, growing in size from the apex to the neck. The whole figure is blackened and apart from the white face shows remnants of red pigments consisting of camwood powder. If we compare the figures illustrated by Louis Perrois in the Arts of a continent, Tom Phillips (ed.) London/New York, 1996 figs 4.86a and b, with our wooden Bwiti figure here, we can understand how it stands in its basket. The free carved arms starting out from round shoulders, the righthand clasping one breast, the lefthand raised in a threatening pose as if to hold or throw a projectile. Both wrists have double bracelets, the pending breasts pointed. The navel is prominently raised.

For sellers original text; set language on this site to: English

Dimensions : 38 x 22 x 22 cm.
Tribe : Mitsogho
Material : the wooden guardian figure is embedded in a fetish basket filled with ancestral remains, much like the Byeri boxes used among the Fang
Weight : 1.5 kg.

Provenance: Acquired from the Jean-Pierre Laprugne Gallery, 52 Rue Mazarine, Paris, around 1975.

For the literature : see the sources quoted above
See also: Warren M. Robbins and Nancy Ingram Nooter: African Art in American Collections, Washington, 1989, figs 905 – 907.

Compare Louis Perrois: Ancestral Art of Gabon, Los Angeles, 1987, plate 17

Sold with written declaration of authenticity by Dr. P. Westerdijk, museum ethnologist and cultural anthropologist specialized in the material cultures of people living south of the Sahara.
Sent by registered and insured mail.

Nl Bastien  top

Feedback score: 100%
Reviews given: 174
Member since: November 19, 2014
  • item received, arrived safely, carefully packed, good job, thanks

    Masamba1957 March 17, 2018

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    TRES BON CONTACT et expédition très rapide. MERCI . A+
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    jean-paul95 March 16, 2018

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    Well packaged and clear description enclosed
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    Aleceiza March 2, 2018

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    The statue has not be delivered yet
    cannot track with
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    charlypp February 23, 2018

    Response by seller
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    Dear Buyer,
    As usual I will contact you by e-mail from Catawiki. According to the shipping company the package has been delivered.
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    Perfect ! Thank you.
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    CAMPOS February 17, 2018

View all 174 reviews


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