Fang Byeri reliquary statue, Gabon Depicted... - Lot 182 - Arthema Auction

Lot 182
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Estimation :
150 - 250 EUR
Fang Byeri reliquary statue, Gabon Depicted... - Lot 182 - Arthema Auction
Fang Byeri reliquary statue, Gabon Depicted seated, this African male figure was intended to be attached by the posterior peduncle to the basket housing ancestral relics. Wearing an oblong crest that falls between the shoulder blades, this long-busted ancestor effigy features a concave face set with brass pupils. One of the feet has been restored. Eroded wood, matt, ochre bark powder residue. 65 x 20 cm Among the Fang people of Cameroon and Gabon, each family owns a "Byeri", or reliquary box, in which the bones of 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 head acting 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 associated with the "So" society. During festivals, the statues were separated from their boxes and carried on parade. The Fang ethnic group, settled in a region stretching from Yaoundé in Cameroon to Ogooué in Gabon, has never had any 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 painted a portrait of the Fang in his book Voyages et aventures en Afrique équatoriale. His account, long considered misleading, portrays the Fang as bellicose, superstitious and anthropophagous savages. It was only later that the accuracy of his account was recognized by his peers.
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