Fang initiation effigy for magical protection.
Exceptional life-size female statue. She is presented naked standing, resting on powerful feet, with fingers drawn in a fan shape. Her arms run elegantly along her body and her hands are open in a codified gesture, probably evoking an enthronement scene. Her face and body are decorated with dotted engravings evoking ancestral symbols. Her realistically sculpted head has a careful and vigorous expression accentuated by mother-of-pearl inlays in the mouth. The headdress is arranged by a wide sagittal crest arranged in a circular arch and decorated with old brass nails holding an imported cotton cloth. This cloth also covers the genitals. The removable arms are held in place by wrought iron nails.
Hard wood, mother-of-pearl or porcelain, mirror, nails, leather, fabric, beads, wrought iron.
An ancient patina of reddish-brown use and shiny honey in places
Fang, Gabon, second half of the 19th century
H: 180 cm
This work is distinguished by its rarity (there are three listed throughout the world), the strength of its expressiveness, its size and its state of preservation.
These large statues, like our copy (from 1m to 1m80), were sculpted in pairs, of both sexes, in reference to the mythological brotherhood, Nzame and his sister Oyeme-Mam, whose incestuous alliance would have incited their creator God Mebeghe to become "infinitely distant".
This effigy was to be used as an ornament in collective houses and shrines for traditional Fang initiation, as it could still survive in the 1910s and 1920s in Rio Muni.
The traditional Fang religious organisation, although shaken by Christianisation, nevertheless continued, at the beginning of the 20th century, the initiation of men within ritual associations, either permanent and trans-clan (Ngil,...) or temporary (for elephant hunting, war raids or commercial operations...).
This statue would have been collected in situ by a Spanish Mission around the 1900s, a period corresponding to the implantation of the new Congregation of the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Claretians) in three bases which had become Spanish: the island of Annobon and near the estuary of the Muni River, the island of Corisco and Cape San Juan.
-Arts d'Afrique Noire N°74 - 1990 - on the cover. "Fang Statue, Rio Muni, approx. 140cm. Wood, human hair, beads, mother-of-pearl buttons and round-headed nails."
-Exhibition catalogue " Gabon " Galerie Walu Zurich Switzerland from 30/09 to 30/11/2005 with photographic reproduction.
-African Heritage Documentation Research Center (ex Yale University Van Rijn) Object ao-0044917-001 Image of the ancestor
-" Gabon " Galerie Walu Zurich Switzerland from 30/09 to 30/11/2005
-" Gabun- Die Kunst, die aus den Wäldern kam " Museum Haus der Völker (Art that came from the forests - House of the Peoples) city of Schwaz in Austrian Tyrol from 21/01 to 20/05/2007 in A4 International Issue 01/07
- Female figure with tattoos and scarification - 1m78 - Rio Muni (Equatorial Guinea) sculpted on commission in 1929 for the Iberico-American exhibition in Seville. Inventory CE 1257 Museo Nacional de Antropologia de Madrid /Spain
Ahdrc.eu : ao-01377181-001
-Male effigy standing wood-1m50 published in Arts d'Afrique Noire N°102- 1997
Sale Daffos Estournel 23/03/1997 Lot 97. Ahdrc.eu : ao-0044900-001
-Statue Fang Guinée Equatoriale - province Rio Muni - Vente Artcurial N°2557 du 17 juin 2014 - Lot N°67 - 60cm
General bibliography :
-Les missions claétaines et l'administration coloniale en Guinée Espagnole (1883-1930) Gonzalo Alvarez Chillida Dossier HMC N°31 pp 113 et suivantes -Sept 2014
-Tales and legends Fang du Gabon (1905) RP Henri Trilles - Ed Kartala 2002
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