On offer from our personal collection is this marvelous Byeri figure from the Fang peoples of Gabon. Such reliquary figures are intended to guard the relics of tribal ancestors, & are placed atop the containers housing the revered ancestral relics. The "stem" supporting & protruding from the figure's buttocks is used to help secure the statue by inserting it into the lid of the Byeri box.
Strong features characterize this sculpture. One of the more haunting aspects of the piece is the absence of eyes, suggested only by concave depressions. Yet the exaggerated open mouth bearing teeth lends an aggressive attitude to the figure. The stylized coiffure is plaited & crested. Quite unusual is the degree of ornamentation -- thin, decorative metal shapes (brass, probably) have been applied to the forehead, breasts, stomach, wrists, & legs. The metal on the breasts as well as the wrist-bands have been accented with a stippling effect. An array of 4 metal pieces surround the protruding belly.
Attesting to its age & wear, the figure has a well-developed patina plus imperfections in the wood, including abrasions, a few scratches, & dry age cracks (including a narrow split on the left side of the head). This superb old piece is in good overall condition, & makes an engaging & powerful display.