guardian figure

Fang people

Currently on View in W304.c9
Image Licensing

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.

Sculptor and painter Andre Lhote [1885-1962], Paris {1}; sold at unknown date; (Robert Fitzgerald, Indianapolis) {2} sold on May 5, 1987 to Harrison Eiteljorg [1903-1997] of Indianapolis; donated to the IMA 1989

{1} Listed in Lhote's collection in 1958 in "Art Negre" exhibition
{2} Robert Fitzgerald also sold under the name Robert Jones

Object Information

Fang people
creation date
late 19th century - early 20th century
wood, pigment, metal
14-3/4 x 4 x 3-1/2 in.
accession number
credit line
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harrison Eiteljorg
Public Domain
African Art

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