Reliquary Guardian Head

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

Fang reliquary baskets from southern Cameroon to Ogoowe valley in Gabon were generally crowned with statues but sometimes by heads alone.  The heads were permanently attached to the reliquary baskets, since their function was above all to guard the family relics with their magical powers, protecting them from theft by sacrilegious curious women, children or strangers. Fernandez has suggested that the Ntumu style is the original form for all other Fang styles, regarding the ’heads on stalks’, with a heart-shaped face under a bulging forehead, as a type of proto-Ntumu style.


James W. Fernandez & Rente L. Fernandez, 1975, Fang Reliquary Art: Its Quantities and Qualities, pp. 724-742;

Reliquary Guardian Head
Reliquary Guardian Head