Tribal art > African Statues > Fang statue
Reliquary keeper of the Byeri Fang (N° 20029)
Eket sculptural art spread via the lagoon to neighboring countries. Its influence can be seen on the face of this statue sculpted by the Fang of Cameroon, which was intended to be placed in a reliquary basket by the rear stalk. Very thick oily patina, locally lumpy. Missing at the level of a foot, cracks of desiccation.
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The boxes containing the relics of illustrious ancestors were guarded by the oldest man in the village, the "esa". Surmounted by a statue or a head that acted as a guardian of the "byeri" boxes, they were stored in a dark corner of the hut, supposed to divert evil influences to someone else. They were also used during the initiation ceremonies of young people linked to the "So" society. During the festivals, the statues were separated from their boxes and carried in parade. Pre-treatment was performed on some statues for therapeutic purposes.
The peoples known as the Fang, or "Pahouins," described as conquering warriors, invaded by successive leaps, from village to village, the entire vast region between the Sanaga in Cameroon and the Ogooué in Gabon, between the eighteenth and early twentieth centuries.
At the back of their huts, in a dark and often smoky nook, the lineage chiefs preciously stored their Byéri, the relic chests and 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, and to dialogue with the deceased to keep them away from the living. (Louis Perrois)
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