Ambete Reliquary with Hollowed-Out Back 19″ – DRC – African Art

$195.00 $97.50


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This statue was carved in the style of the Ambete (Mbete) people of DRC. The statue has typical Ambete features including a hollowed out back and sits on top of a container. It is believed that these statues once held the bones of ancestors. The container measures 19 inches tall and weighs 2 pounds. There is some cracking, scuffing and wear and tear throughout – please inspect photos.

Type of Object

Figural Container

Country of Origin

DR Congo




Wood, pigment and vegetable fiber

Approximate Age









2 lbs

Overall Condition

Some cracking, scuffing and general wear and tear. Inspect photos

Tribe Information

About the Ambete People

“The Ambete live on the frontier with Gabon and the Republic of Congo, and are related to the Kota population. They carved three types of sculpture: heads, busts and full figures with a hollowed back. The latter have short legs, an elongated columnar torso and a flattened face with a triangular chin, an open mouth showing teeth and a triangular nose, all resting under a ridged coiffure. They are thought to have a connection with the ancestor’s cult – they were either used as reliquaries or placed alongside ancestor bones in a basket.
Heads and busts were probably positioned on poles and placed in front of the chief’s house. They may have had an apotropaic or emblematic purpose.”

Baquart, Jean-Baptiste. The Tribal Arts of Africa. New York: Thames and Hudson Inc. 1998. Print.


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