Reliquary Guardian Head

nlo byeri
Type: head
Exhibits: Ancestor Cult
Tribes: Betsi group, Fang peoples
Location: Gabon
Period: 20th Century
Materials: Copper Nails, Wood


This beautiful head has a compact form, with a highly polished surface. It has an unusual hairstyle. According to Louis Perrois' classification, it is called the "transverse chignon" arrangement . It is assumed that the heads with a chignon, where the hair itself was plaited close to the scalp high on the forehead, represented females, while the more richly decorated hairstyles also plaited are probably masculine, and are more common in the sculpture of the Fang, as expected in a patrilineal society. Also the heads with transverse chignon are thought to be of the Betsi tribe.


L. Perrois, Africa, The Art of a Continent, 1999, pp. 318-9; L Perrois,La Statuaire Fan (Gabon), Paris,1972,p.350, pl. 174

Reliquary Guardian Head
Reliquary Guardian Head