X65.3800 Janus reliquary guardian figure (mbulu-ngulu)

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Not Currently On View in Intersections 

 

Object Name: Janus reliquary guardian figure (mbulu-ngulu)

Artist: Unknown

Culture: Kota peoples

Place of Origin: Gabon

Date/Era: 18th-19th century

Medium/Materials: Wood, copper alloy, iron

Dimensions: H: 67.5 cm

Credit Line: Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of the Wellcome Trust.

Accession Number: X65.3800

Description

Peoples of Gabon created a constellation of art forms to honor and protect their departed ancestors. The Kota peoples placed the remains of their distinguished ancestors in baskets or bundles that were tended by reliquary figures with exquisite formal geometries. Copper or metal was often used in the construction of these guardian figures, as the reflective surfaces served to deter evil forces. Within a family or community, reliquaries were often brought together, thereby amassing their protective and beneficent powers. The janus faces of this mbulu-ngulu signal the all-seeing powers of the figures as they vigilantly protected ancestral shrines.

Source: Gallery text, Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives, 2006.

See also: Marla C. Berns, World Arts, Local Lives: The Collections of the Fowler Museum at UCLA. Fowler Museum, Los Angeles, 2014.

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