Our page banner is a detail of a Ram (Bata) mask from the Kwele people of Gabon or the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Photo: (Creative Commons) © niborean
The Kota are noted for their sculptural figures which are called ‘mbulu-ngulu’. They are carved in wood and covered with sheets of brass or copper to increase their power.
Kota figures have very stylized heads and simplified lozenge shaped bodies. Their faces are oval with a convex surface to represent males or a concave surface to represent females.
Some figures have faces on both sides of the head. We call this Kota statues guardian or reliquary figures as they protect the relics of an ancestor that are contained in a box, basket or bundle called the ‘Bwete’. The Kota revere the relics of their ancestors as they believe that they can call on their power to assist them with their troubles in this life.
The Kota are several different groups of people who share a similar culture. The word 'kota' means to bind or link together - an appropriate name to unite a tribe.
The Kota are a peace loving people who live in an area that stretches from East Gabon into the Congo.