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Eyema Byeri

Mid- 19th century
Artist/maker unknown, Fang, Betsi
The bodily relics of revered ancestors—skulls or small bones—held great spiritual power for the Fang of Central Africa. These treasured artifacts were kept safe in reliquary boxes, and carved wooden heads or figures were mounted on top to keep watch. This male guardian figure possesses the hallmarks of its type: a large head, circular eyes probably once covered with brass disks to create a glinting presence in darkened settings, and an elongated torso with short limbs. The intact hand grasps an animal horn of a type used in healing ceremonies. Though the figure is seated, its active posture with forearms held perpendicular to the body underscores its role as guardian of the sacred remains and protector of the living....

Object Details
With Joseph Brummer (1883-1947), Paris, before 1913 (?); with Charles Vignier (1863-1934), Paris, 1913-19 (?); Marius de Zayas (1880-1961), New York, 1919; Louise Arensberg (1878-1954) and Walter C. Arensberg (1878-1954), Los Angeles, May 1919 [1]; gift to PMA, 1950.1. The preceding information is according to the Ross Archive of African Images, Yale University, no. 1009,

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