African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Fang head
Fang head (N° 21957)
Fang head whose neck was introduced into the reliquary basket. The heart-shaped face under a wide forehead, the protruding mouth, and the helmet hairstyle, indicate certain characteristics of the Ntumu style. This type of sculpture fulfilled the same function as the byeri statuettes. Brown satin patina, cracks and accidents.
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Height on base: 41 cm.
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 which acted as 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 initiation ceremonies for young people linked to the "So" society. The term Angokh means "full head of the ancestor" because they are representations of deceased chiefs.
During festivals, the statues were separated from their boxes and carried in parade.