Fang Reliquary Head Gabon
This example is a well carved head that was probably attached to a basket or a box of relics. This head shape is often identified with figures and masks common throughout a region stretching from Cameroon, through Gabon to the Atlantic coastal area.¬†The function of this interesting and unique old carving is unknown, however due to the quality of carving and the details of the face that are similar to figural images found the family altar we identify it with the Fang Byeri funerary cult.
Byeri reliquary held the bones of ancestors and were venerated through annual ceremonies at which they were present in the form of the sculptures. Photographed as early as 1907 (Tessmann 1913/1972, vol. II) the cult of Byeri began to lose its prominence after 1910 due to French colonial government pressure. In the past figures would often be embellished with native copper bands around arms or wrists and some would hold in front of them miniature ancestor figures or carved animal horns known as Nlakh or small cups used in Byeri rituals honoring ancestors
From the Collection of Robert Pearson, Denver, Colorado
Bob Pearson began collecting African art later in his life. He was a n engineer, inveterate climber, and long-time collector of books and paintings. Spurred by the Douglas Society at the Denver Museum of Art, and his friendship with noted collector George Heggarty, he began building an enormous, eclectic collection. His African art library grew to several hundred books. He loved textiles and material culture-things which had domestic use, like spoons, cups, stools, and chairs, as well as masks and carvings. His collection included items from more than thirty African countries, and his fine eye gave him pieces ranging from a gold dust scale to huge Dogon figural ladders. Africa Direct is honored to have been chosen to sell them.