African art > African Statues > Statue Fang
Fang Ntumu's ancestor figure of the Byeri (N° 19037)
Covered with braids gathered in three top shells, the horizontal lips forming a wide pout, this reliquary figure displays the characteristics of the Ntumu style from the regions between Gabon, Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea.
Matt oily patina, eroded areas. Lacks in the feet.
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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 kept 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 box, and were meant to divert evil influences to someone else. They were also used during the initiation ceremonies of young people linked to the "So" society. During festivals, the statues were separated from their boxes and carried in a parade, held by the posterior peduncle. The Fang ethnic group, established in a region stretching from Yaoundé in Cameroon to Ogooué in Gabon, never had political unity. Clan cohesion was maintained through religious and judicial associations such as the so and ngil. Following his trip to the region in 1851, Paul du Chaillu drew a portrait of the Fang in his book entitled Voyages et aventures en Afrique équatoriale. His account, long considered fallacious, portrays the Fang as warlike, superstitious and anthropophagous savages. It was only later that the accuracy of his testimony would be admitted and recognized by his peers. (Source: "Fang", Perrois)
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