Although this figure is highly abstract, it represents an ancestor of the Kota people. Because Kota people believe that the strength and wisdom of their ancestors survive after death, they preserve their ancestors' skulls and certain bones in basket containers. This guardian figure, made of wood and covered with precious copper and brass, was attached to such a container. Notice the wide-open eyes in the simplified face, which suggests that the figure is a
Ancestors were contacted to ensure the well-being of individuals as well as the village, and in times of great distress all "mbulu ngulu" were brought together to combine the power of all of the important dead.