Kota Osseyba Reliquary Figure

   Osseyba or reliquary figure
  Osseyba or reliquary figure from the Kota people of Gabon, Central Africa

If you have a table at home where you display pictures of deceased grandparents, or perhaps a distant cousin who was revered in your family or maybe someone closer to you who is no longer here – would you call that table an ancestor altar? Would you give the spirit of those pictured a glass of water, light a candle in their honor, or give them a piece of cake on their birthday? Whether you would or not, ancestor worship appears to be alive and well all over the world, and while it may take many forms here in the western world, the Kota people of Gabon in Central Africa have embellished ancestor worship with a distinct art form.

This Osseyba has faces on both the front and back  
This Osseyba has faces on both the front and back  

This week’s New Arrival features a statue used by the Kota in the worship of their ancestors. Called an Osseyba, a proper name, this unique piece represents a guardian capable of protecting both the departed and the living. Although physically gone, the Kota believed the power of certain spirits could be harnessed even after they left this world. It was the task of the Osseyba to utilize this power for the deceased and their descendants. A masterpiece of abstraction it looks front and back; reminding us we are all connected to those who have gone before.

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Part of a much larger collection of authentic African art