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Fang Male Reliquary Guardian Figure Gabon African Art

Product #: 98723
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Title Fang Male Reliquary Guardian Figure Gabon African Art
Type of Object Reliquary Figure (Eyema-o-Bieri Figure)
Country of Origin Gabon, see also Cameroon 
People Fang from Mbea subgroup
Materials Wood, pigment
Approximate Age Mid 20th century
Dimensions 24 inches H ; base is 6.5 inches x 6.5 inches
Overall Condition Good to Fair. Most of our pieces have spent decades on at least two continents, and have been treasured by several owners.   Small splits, scrapes and cracks are a normal part of their patina attesting to their age and extensive use.  We examine each piece carefully when we receive it and report any damage we find in our listings.  Please look carefully at the pictures which may also reveal condition and damage. Patina is shiny and very smooth on breasts, top of face, and arms .
Damage/Repair scuffed and worn patina, chips, cracks, indigenous repairs; see pictures for details.

Additional Information:  A well carved standing male figure, made of dense a hard wood and showing a oiled blackened surface. This  important piece  comes from the northern Fang. The firm body with arms formed with important muscles, and the elaborate hairstyle as well as facial details make this piece a classic Fang sculpture. Its worn patina still have this oiled substance from its use as a ceremonial sculpture. Also, the figure shows evidence of substance age that would make it a prominent addition  in any collection.

During migrations which took place in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries the Fang people moved to their present area becoming part of a complex overlay of population of approximately 200,000, who stretch from southern Cameroon, through Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. The Fang organized their lives around the family lineage and venerated their lineage's ancestors at family shrines where memorials or reliquary boxes known as byeri, containing their bones were under the care of an elder known as the Esa. Containers made of either bark or woven basketry was surmounted by sculpted figures that guarded the remains of Fang ancestors.

Known as eyema-o-byeri these guardian figures were a point of contact for veneration of the ancestors and served to witness and validate the initiation rituals of young men. When not in actual use the sculpted figures were generally hidden from view.

Fang figures appear to be slightly crouched with legs bent in a seated position to rest on the container enabling the figures to perch on the edge of the byeri with their legs hanging over the side.