African art > Reliquaries, statues > Fang statue
Figure of Fang Ntumu ancestor of the Byeri (N° 20202)
A prognathic jaw emphasizing a large pout, stocky and rounded limbs evoking the morphology of the newborn, this African sculpture illustrates the Ntumu style statuary of the regions between Gabon, Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea.
Shiny black patina, eroded areas.
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Among the Fang of Cameroon and Gabon, each family has a "Byeri", or reliquary box, in which the bones of the ancestors are kept. These boxes were guarded by the oldest man in the village, the "esa". The reliquary boxes were surmounted by a statue or a head that acted as a guardian of the "byeri" boxes. These were kept in a dark corner of the hut, and were intended to divert evil influences to someone else. They were also used during the initiation ceremonies of young people linked to the "So" society. During the festivals, the statues were separated from their boxes and carried in parade, held by the back stalk. The Fang ethnic group, established in a region extending from Yaoundé in Cameroon to Ogooué in Gabon, has never had a political unity. Clan cohesion was maintained through religious and judicial associations such as the so and ngil. (Source: "Fang", Perrois)
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