African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Fang statue
Byeri Fang reliquary ancestor statue (N° 18106)
Fang statues within African art linked to the cult of the Byeri.
This anthropomorphic sculpture, intended to be placed in a reliquary basket by the posterior stalk, has a concave face with a prognathic jaw. The importance of the lineage is symbolized by the umbilical tenon and the sex. Two-tone shiny patina, cracks and old restoration on the pelvis.
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The boxes containing the relics of illustrious ancestors were guarded by the oldest man in the village, the "esa". Surmounted by a statue or a head that acted as a guardian of the "byeri" boxes, they were stored in a dark corner of the hut, supposed to divert evil influences to someone else. Samples were also taken from the figures for therapeutic purposes. 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.
The peoples known as Fang, or "Pahouins," described as conquering warriors, invaded by successive leaps from village to village the entire vast region between the Sanaga River in Cameroon and the Ogooué River in Gabon between the eighteenth and early twentieth centuries.In the depths of their huts, in a dark and often smoky nook, the lineage chiefs preciously stored their Byéri, the relic chests and carvings that "watched over them." The daily life of the Fang had three priorities: to perpetuate social identity, to subsist in a hostile natural environment, and to dialogue with the deceased to keep them away from the living. (Louis Perrois)
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