In Kota communities of eastern Gabon, bark boxes or baskets containing a clan's relics were accompanied by symbolic ancestral representations known as bwete. Bwete are highly abstract, two-dimensional figurative wood sculptures whose surfaces are covered with carefully applied sheets and strips of copper or brass. The use of these metals was attractive to patrons aesthetically, for their tonal and reflective qualities, as well as for their regional associations with wealth. Kota migrations over the entire eastern part of Gabon and the region bordering the Congo to the south resulted in a rich diversity of stylistic interpretations of this multimedia sculptural tradition. For ritual purposes, bwete were arrayed in semidarkness within a small enclosure, sheltered from the gaze of onlookers.
Ollivary, until 1961; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, on loan to The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1961–1964; The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1964–1978
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The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Art of Oceania, Africa, and the Americas from the Museum of Primitive Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1969, no. 407.
Perrois, Louis. Le Bwété des Kota-Mahongwe du Gabon: Note sur les figures funéraires des populations du bassin de l'Ivindo. Libreville: Institut de Recherche pour le Developpement (ORSTOM), 1969.
The American Federation of Arts. Primitive Art Masterworks: an exhibition jointly organized by the Museum of Primitive Art and the American Federation of Arts, New York. New York: The American Federation of Arts, 1974, no. 84.
Perrois, Louis. "L'art Kota-Mahongwe." Arts d'Afrique Noire vol. 20 (Winter 1976), pp. 15–17.
Chaffin, Alain, and Françoise Chaffin. L'art Kota: Les igures de reliquaire. Meudon: Chaffin, 1979.
Herbert, Eugenia W. Red Gold of Africa: Copper in Precolonial History and Culture. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1984.