For nearly 200 years, these reliquary figures respond to the same general model : the oval face centered in a roughly circular frame is surmounted by a wide crescent-shaped horizontal headdress. The base is a hollowed lozenge symbolizing fertility. A neck separates these two parts.
A dozen pieces of very skillful workmanship were made by the same hand, identified as the Master of the Sébé river which is a tributary of the Ogooué. They have the very innovative feature of combining the convexity of the forehead with the concavity of eye cavity and chin of a skull. The ornamentation is embellished with metal strips.
De Grunne considers that this master was active around 1750 to 1800 CE. This date appears so old that his art could well constitute the prototypes of this new artefact. Over the years the design has varied, achieving a geometric simplification that has greatly influenced the modern European art. The Rubin specimen was sold for € 5.5M including premium by Christie's on June 23, 2015.
A reliquary figure 54 cm high from the corpus of the Master of Sébé was sold for $ 1.22M including premium by Sotheby's on November 13, 2017. Another one in a similar size is estimated € 700K for sale by Sotheby's in Paris on December 12, lot 162.