African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Statue Fang
Statue Fang (N° 13745)
Fang tribal art.
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Represented seated, this male figure was intended to be recorded by the posterior stalk on the basket housing the relics of the ancestors. Wearing an oblong crest that falls between the shoulder blades, this ancestor effigy with a long bust displays a concave face in which brass pupils are set. One of the feet has been restored. Eroded wood, matte, ochre bark powder residue. In the Fang of Cameroon and Gabon, each family has a "Byeri", or reliquary box, in which the bones of the ancestors are preserved. These boxes were guarded by the oldest man in the village, the "esa". The reliquary boxes were topped with a statue or a head that acted as custodian of the "byi" boxes. These were kept in a dark corner of the box, and were intended to divert evil influences to someone else. They were also used during the initiation ceremonies of young people linked to the company "So". During the holidays, the statues were separated from their boxes and paraded. The Fang ethnic group, established in a region stretching from Yaounde in Cameroon to Ogooué in Gabon, has never had any political unity. Clan cohesion was maintained through religious and judicial associations such as so and ngil. Following his trip to the region in 1851, Paul du Chaillu paints a portrait of the Fang in his book Travel and Adventures in Equatorial Africa. His story, long considered fallacious, portrays the Fangs as belligerent, superstitious and anthropophage savages. It is only later that the correctness of her testimony will be admitted and recognized by her peers.
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