Bowdoin College Homepage
Bowdoin College Museum of Art Logo and Wordmark

Advanced Search
Preview image of work. wood, copper, brass on wooden base                                                                    ,  Reliquary Figure (Mbulu-Ngulu) 7499

Recommend keywords

Help us make our collections more accessible by providing keywords to describe this artwork. The BCMA uses the Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus to provide consistent keywords. Enter a keyword in the field below and you will be prompted with a list of possible matching AAT preferred terms.


Reliquary Figure (Mbulu-Ngulu)

Export record as: Plain text | JSON | CDWA-Lite | VRA Core 4


Artist Unidentified ; Artist Unidentified (Kota)


Reliquary Figure (Mbulu-Ngulu)

Creation Date

ca. 1900


early 20th century


20 3/4 in. x 11 1/8 in. x 1 3/4 in. (52.71 cm x 28.26 cm x 4.45 cm)



Creation Place

Central Africa, Gabon

Medium and Support

wood, copper, brass on wooden base

Credit Line

Museum Purchase, Florence C. Quinby Fund, in memory of Henry Cole Quinby, Honorary Degree, 1916


Public Domain

Accession Number


This reliquary figure represents an idealized face demonstrating the power of its owner’s ancestors. Once kept with a box containing bones of these ancestors and used for ancestral veneration, these sculptures are now used to invoke and celebrate precolonial tradition. With colonization and conversion to Christianity in the early to mid-twentieth century, many people in Kota regions sold their reliquary figures to foreign collectors, leaving fewer historical works in these regions. Such changes indicate how various people have transformed the uses of reliquary figures.