Mahongwe are in the extreme northeast of Gabon near the Congo border. These populations have links with the Kota and are themselves divided into subgroups. Ancestor worship formed the core of the family group's religious and social life. At the death of a chief, the initiates would take from the body of the deceased various relics, which then decorated with metal and rubbed with powders of multiple magical powers. They would be kept in baskets surmounted by reliquary figures. Although recognizably human because of its eyes and nose, the ancestor's face is severely formalistic. The Mahongwe covered these figurines with copper or brass. At the time of initiation in the ancestor cult, called the bwete, the clans would meet to perform communal rituals; each clan's chief would dance holding the reliquary. This Mahongwe figure has a face on the front and on the back to maximize its protective powers.Provenance: Raskin Private Collection
Exhibited at the 2011 New Brunswick Show "Fruitful, Frightful, Divine!"
Just finished acting as a prop in a major motion picture about P.T. Barnum. The film "Greatest Showman on Earth" starring Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron and Michelle Williams will be released Dec 2017.