Fang Reliquary Head, Betsi Group, Gabon

This lot has been removed from the website, please contact customer services for more information

Lot 376
Fang Reliquary Head, Betsi Group, Gabon

Sold for US$ 106,250 inc. premium

African and Oceanic Art

22 May 2018, 15:00 PDT

Los Angeles

Fang Reliquary Head, Betsi Group, Gabon
byeri
Wood, metal tacks, fiber
height 12 1/4in (31cm)

Provenance
Maria and Paul Wyss Collection, Basel
Schweizer-Amsler Collection, Switzerland
Charles-Edouard Duflon, Geneva
Private Collection, Switzerland

Louis Perrois and Marta Sierra Delage (The Art of Equatorial Guinea - The Fang Tribes, Rizzoli International Publications, New York, 1990, p. 10) note that 'Fang art is essentially based on statues for ancestor worship and masks for initiation rite ceremonies. By corollary, a whole decorative art form grew up around these objects.

The sole theme in Fang ritual statues (all of them intermingled "tribes") is the "ancestor in meditation." But for some very rare and almost marginal exceptions, all known objects are of persons depicted naked, both male and female, in pensive attitudes[ . . . ].'

Perrois and Delage continue (Ibid., p. 42-43), "The worship of the relics of the family's illustrious dead is widespread in the whole of Fang country, from South Cameroon to Gabon and continental Equatorial Guinea. It could be an autonomous worship within a lineage, or a part of a larger set of rites like those of the secret societies for example (the So, Ngil, Schok, etc.). It is characterized by the conservation of the relics of the group's notables, set aside after death in the graves (the skulls are kept above all, and often other bones for specific rites). Women are often elevated to the rank of ancestor of the biéry, especially very prolific mothers who become true heads despite their sex.[ . . . ]

The biéry is consulted before any important undertaking: hunting, fishing, travel, choice of terrain for planting or a settlement, marriage, political alliance, disagreements or serious disputes, war, etc."

Resting on a long, cylindrical neck coming out of the reliquary lid, the present head on offer is finely sculpted with an inverted pyriform-shaped head displaying a concave face with a button nose above a wide, slit mouth, the eyes of two brass tacks bordered by arched, crescent-form ears and wearing a helmet-style coiffure with tresses; dark-brown patina with areas still exuding oil on the surface.

Cf. Savary, Claude and Louis Perrois, Le Gabon de Fernand Grébert 1913-1932, Musée d'Ethnographie, Geneva, Grébert Collection, p. 143, for a series of sketches which include two depictions of Fang biery heads.
Contacts
Fang Reliquary Head, Betsi Group, Gabon
Fang Reliquary Head, Betsi Group, Gabon
Fang Reliquary Head, Betsi Group, Gabon
Fang Reliquary Head, Betsi Group, Gabon
Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this auction, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations

ALL BIDDERS MUST AGREE THAT THEY HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD BONHAMS' CONDITIONS OF SALE AND AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THEM, AND AGREE TO PAY THE BUYER'S PREMIUM AND ANY OTHER CHARGES MENTIONED IN THE NOTICE TO BIDDERS. THIS AFFECTS THE BIDDERS LEGAL RIGHTS.

If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories excluding Arms & Armor, Coins and Medals, Motor Cars, Motorcycles, Wine & Whisky

27.5% on the first $3,000 of the hammer price;
25% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of $3,000 up to and including $400,000;
20% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of $400,000 up to and including $4,000,000;
and 13.9% of the hammer price of any amounts in excess of $4,000,000.

Payment Notices

Payment for purchases may be made in or by (a) cash, (b) cashier's check or money order, (c) personal check with approved credit drawn on a U.S. bank, (d) wire transfer or other immediate bank transfer, or (e) Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover credit, charge or debit card. Please note that the amount of cash notes and cash equivalents that can be accepted from a given purchaser may be limited.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licenses please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.