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Bassa Reliquary

2003.08.e.075

This reliquary comes from the Bassa peoples in Liberia. For the Bassa, death marks the transition from being a member of society to existing as an ancestor. Though dead, ancestors are not completely cut off from their living descendants. Bassa families gather the bones of their deceased relatives into a bundle so that they can continue to care for their departed family member as well as continue to receive their guidance and blessings. Such bundles are topped with sculpted heads that evoke ideals of beauty, wisdom, and serenity. This reliquary is currently on display in our newest exhibit, Visions of Home: A Celebration of Gullah Art and Culture, illustrating the theme of Family.

Category: Artifacts