MAHONGWE TRIBE RELIQUARY FIGURE
Mahongwe masks are rare. They are reliquary figures, commemorating a dead person. The tribal name means “from your father.” The mask shown here is typical of the Mahongwe: The wood is plated with copper or brass strips; the face is oval and concave, missing a mouth, with a top knot on the head; the neck is a cylinder; and the base is open. The figures are held during ceremonies, a clan’s chief dancing with it. Outside of this person, it is considered dangerous for the average tribe member to handle the family’s reliquary.
The Mahongwe are the northern branch of the Kota peoples, a Bantu ethnic group. They live in the extreme northeast of Gabon near the Republic of the Congo border.