African & Tribal Art :
Fang : Fang Byeri Sculpture
Fang Byeri Sculpture - PF.6122
19.75" (50.2cm) high
Additional Information: Hong Kong
Location: Great Britain
| Photo Gallery
The Fang people migrated from the northwest during
the 18th and 19th centuries and are today spread out
across southern Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, and
Gabon. They are primarily hunters but farm as well.
Fang social structure is based upon the clan, a group
of individuals with a common ancestor, and upon the
family. They also maintain tribal cohesion through
the So and Ngil societies. Each family possessed a
Byeri, or reliquary box, in which the bones of famous
ancestors were kept. The box was kept by the Esa,
the eldest man in the family.
Fang Byeri figures (the guardian statue that
surmounts the Byeri box) are usually characterized
by male figures. Although they are generally
depicted seated, they sometimes are represented
emerging from a columnar staff, such as this
example, without the suggestion of a lower body.
Their hands are usually joined around the stomach
and their highly stylized heads may feature inlaid
metal eyes. While this figure is devoid of metallic
adornments, his gaze is as equally captivating. In
this case, the figure holds his muscular arms close to
his side, resting his hands alongside his stomach.
Sometimes similar sculptures hold magical divination
devices in their hands in order to conjure up spiritual
forces. However, this powerful figure needs no tools,
for he is able to communicate with the beyond solely
with his hypnotic stare. This guardian clearly
commands a forceful presence in the mysterious
realm of the other world. He functions both as
guardians of the spirits of deceased ancestors as
well as the protector of our health and benevolence
that are influenced by forces from beyond.