The African art relating to the Byeri cult is illustrated by various anthropomorphic sculptures acting as "guardians" and incarnating the ancestor.
This male figure has a pouting mouth revealing filed teeth. Under clasped hands, the umbilical outgrowth refers to the lineage. Semi-matte black patina, missing.
The boxes containing the relics of illustrious ancestors were kept by the oldest man in the village, the "esa". Topped by a statue or a head that acted as guardian of the "byeri" boxes, they were stored in a dark corner of the box, supposed to deflect evil influences. They were also used during initiation ceremonies for young people linked to "So" society. During the holidays, the statues were separated from their boxes and carried in parade.
The peoples known under the name of Fang, or "Pahouins", qualified as conquering warriors, invaded by successive leaps, from villages to villages, the whole vast region between Sanaga in Cameroon and Ogooué in Gabon, between the 18th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Deep in their huts, in a dark and often smoky corner, the lineage leaders carefully stored their Byéri, the relic chests and the sculptures which "watched over them." The daily life of the Fang had three priorities: perpetuating social identity, subsisting in a hostile natural environment, dialoguing with the deceased to keep them away from the living. (Louis Perrois)
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