Articulated Ancestor Figure

eyema-o- byeri
Exhibits: Ancestor Cult
Tribes: Fang peoples, Ntumu / Mekeny group
Location: Equatorial Guinea
Period: 20th Century
Materials: Brass Nails, Raffia, Raffia Cords, Tuft of Feathers, Wicker, Wood
Price: Contact Us

This Byeri articulated statue was probably used in a kind of puppet show, performed during the conclusion of the Malan initiation rites, of the ancestor cult. It was a comic show, intended primarily as a respite from the previous days, during which the participants engaged with death. According to L. Perrois, “Performing behind a small raffia screen, these wooden figures were manipulated by initiates seeking to show the new members of the brotherhood that the deceased - represented by the statues, were not really dead, but continue to participate in the life of their descendants in the village. Some statues were articulated, the arms and legs attached to the torso by cords”. The oval head has unusual elements. Especially striking are the head adornments, with a triangular woven headdress terminating in a tuft of feathers at the summit. According to L. Perrois: “The Fang took great care of their appearance at all times, more for symbolic and social reasons than specially aesthetic" . Another unusual element is the very stylish large rectangular ears, with large perforated triangular ear holes. 


James Fernandez, Bwiti, an ethnography of religious imagination in Africa, 1982, pp. 265-6; L.Perrois, Fang, 2006, p.24, p.50;

Articulated Ancestor Figure
Articulated Ancestor Figure
Articulated Ancestor Figure
Articulated Ancestor Figure