Lot: 234

Reliquary head "nlo bieri"

Gabon, Fang

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
Gaston Durville (1887-1971), Paris, France
American Collection, New York, USA
Pierre J. Langlois, Lille, France
Marceau Rivière, Paris, France
Blanchet & Associés, Paris, 21 September 2004, Lot 252
Collection de Saint-Cyprien, Ville de Saint-Cyprien, France (2017)
H: 9.1 inch 10000 EUR / 20000 EUR

wood, black patina, metal, base The neck of this head was once partially inserted into the lid of a cylindrical bark container holding selected skull and skeletal remains of an honored ancestor. The heads should protect the earthly remains of the ancestor and should keep his spiritual powers within reach of his descendants. This box made of bark, together with a head (or figure) is called a "byeri" and served religious and magical purposes both within the family and in the ceremonies of society organizations. The "byeri" were spread before each ritualistic act with a mixture of palm oil and tree resin. Skull container and ancestor head (or figure) were sometimes placed in specially prepared sacred huts, but mostly they were simply left to stand in the corner of the owners hut.