African art > Reliquary > Head Fang
Head of reliquary Betsi Nlo Angokh (N° 17534)
African art and funeral rites
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A large head with the concave face characteristic of the Betsi style, with cabochon pupils, is topped with braids accessorized with metallic bells. Restorations were carried out using resin and metal staples. Mate crusty patina.
Fach the Fangs of Cameroon and Gabon, each family has a Byeri, or reliquary box, in which the bones of ancestors are preserved. 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 the guardian of the 'byeri' boxes. These were kept in a dark corner of the box, and were intended to divert evil influences to someone else. They were also used during the initiation ceremonies of young people linked to society. So, so. The term Angokh means 'full head of the ancestor' for they are representations of the deceased chiefs. During the holidays, the statues were separated from their boxes and paraded. The Fang ethnic group, established in a region stretching from Yaounde in Cameroon to Ogooué in Gabon, has never had political unity. Clan cohesion was maintained through religious and judicial associations such as the so and ngil. Following his journey to the region in 1851, Paul du Chaillu paints a portrait of the Fang in his book . . . Travels and adventures in Equatorial Africa.
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