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Fang Reliquary Byeri Miniature Gabon African Art

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Product #: 123143
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Title Fang Reliquary Byeri Miniature Gabon African Art
Type of Object Figure, Carving, Statue, Sculpture
Country of Origin Gabon, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea
People Fang
Materials Wood, pigment
Approximate Age 20th century
Dimensions Height: 9.25 Inches
Width: 2.75 Inches
Overall Condition Fair
Damage/Repair Cracks, chips and a well worn patina

Additional Information: Transitional cultural contact in the heavily forested border region between present day inhabitants often produced sculptural forms that are a hybrid as well as locally defined and difficult to categorize to any one single group such as the Fang of Gabon.  Though similar in their forms the reliquary figures fall into a number of subtly differentiated sub-styles that stretch from their core area in Gabon to southern Cameroon.  A bark container known as a byeri was normally associated to Fang figures and would hold the bones of an ancestor that were venerated during annual ceremonies at which the ancestors were present in the form of the sculptures.  Photographed as early as 1907, the cult of Byeri began to lose its prominence after 1910, due to colonial government pressure. 

This small figure standing on an altar would not have been attached to a Byeri reliquary but most probably was used during Byeri rituals.  However the figure can still be appreciated for its unique form as an example of hybrid Fang carving mixed with another stylistic influence.  Interestingly the figure appears to be a composite of human (body) and bird (head)  . The hairstyle in the back recalls hairstyles found on Fang reliquary figures.  This is a fine figure and its very uniqueness makes it an interesting sculpture that would challenge one for some time.    

Recommended Reading:

Fernandez, J.   'La statuaire Fang-Gabon', African Arts, 8, No.1, 1974.

Fernandez, J. W.  and R. L. 'Fang Reliquary Art: Its Quantities and Qualities.'  Cahiers d'etudes africaines, 15, No. 5. 1975

Perrois, L.  Statuaire fang, Paris.  1972

 Siroto, L., East of the Atlantic, West of the Congo, Art From Equatorial Africa, The Dwight and Blossom Strong Collection, Kathleen Berrin, Editor. 1995