guardian figure

 
Culture
Fang people
Creation date
Materials
wood, pigment, metal
Dimensions
H: 17 1/8 in.
Credit line
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harrison Eiteljorg
Accession number
1989.1027
Collection
Currently On View In
Eiteljorg Suite of African and Oceanic Art - W304

Until about a century ago, the Fang maintained an ancestor association known as Bieri. In this association, skulls and bones of important members were kept in a wooden container with a head or figure on top. These images were both containers for these sacred bones and representatives of ancestor spirits.

Initiated men would consult these containers with images for aid and protection before important activities such as war, resettlement, marriage and travel. These figures were also used in initiation ceremonies and other ritual activities where access was forbidden to women and children.

(Robert Jones, Indianapolis) sold on March 9, 1977 to Harrison Eiteljorg [1903-1997] of Indianapolis; donated to the IMA 1989

{1} Robert Jones also sold by the name of Robert Fitzgerald
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