African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Fang statue

Fang reliquary statue of the Byeri (N° 20398)

Traditional Pahouin sculptures in African art from Gabon
At the back of their huts, in a dark and often smoky nook, lineage leaders preciously stored their Byéri, the relic chests and tribal sculptures that "watched over them." The daily life of the Fang had three priorities: to perpetuate social identity, to subsist in a hostile natural environment, to dialogue with the dead to keep them away from the living. (Louis Perrois)
The bones of the deceased were kept in boxes surmounted by a sculpture supposed to watch over the relics, such as this male statue with a long bust contrasting with stocky limbs. The concave face displays a sulky pout characteristic of the Fang / Ntumu. The rear peduncle was used to put the piece in the basket. Smooth patina, erosion and cracks. Door and its frame, equipped with a large handle, carved with friezes containing faces and figures of ancestors recalling the formal aspect of the heads of Byeri reliquaries. These symbolic motifs of African tribal art have a protective value, the deceased being supposed, for the Fang people, to master occult powers. Wooden pegs secure the panels. The back of the door has a horizontal bar that prevents the door from opening. The peoples known as Fang, or "Pahouins", described as conquering warriors, invaded the vast region between the Sanaga in Cameroon and the Ogooué in Gabon by successive leaps from village to village between the 18th and early 20th centuries. They never had political unity. Clan cohesion was maintained through religious and judicial associations such as the so and the ngil .  

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OriginEx-collection française
EthnyFang
Countrygabon
Material(s)wood, vannerie
Height62
Width17
Weight1.25 Kg

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