Fang Head (Byéri)


Head of an ancestor, Byeri, Fang, Gabon • Musée d'ethnographie de Neuchâtel, Switzerland • Inv. #MEN III C 7400 • H. 26/48 cm
Head of an ancestor, Byeri, Fang, Gabon • Musée d'ethnographie de Neuchâtel, Switzerland • Inv. #MEN III C 7400 • H. 26/48 cm

 

The scan of this monoxylous head shows:

 

  • that the sculptor has avoided the heart wood to reduce the risk of splitting,
  • the depth of the initial penetration of palm oil (see pink arrows),
  • the line marking the edge of the residual oil after a century of oozing (bluearrows),
  • traces of metal strips that once decorated the cheekbones and jaw,
  • a tunnel giving access to the back of the mouth (perhaps to work a tongue).

 

Head of a Fang reliquary (éyéma ô byéri), Gabon • Wood, palm oil, charcoal • 19th c. • Musée Ehnographique de Neuchâtel, Switzerland, accession # III.C.7400 • H. 27,2 cm (47,6 cm with its stick)

Head of a Fang reliquary (éyéma ô byéri), Gabon • Wood, palm oil, charcoal • 19th c. • Musée Ehnographique de Neuchâtel, Switzerland, accession # III.C.7400 • H. 27,2 cm (47,6 cm with its stick)

 

The full CT scan analysis of that Fang head has been published in : 

 

A Masterwork that Sheds Tears ... and Light - A Complementary Study of a Fang Ancestral Head

by Roland Kaehr and Louis Perrois with Marc Ghysels
African Arts, Winter 2007, vol. 40(4), p.44-57

Download
A Masterwork that Sheds Tears.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 522.4 KB

To learn even more about that Fang head, check out this film :

 

FANG RELIQUARY HEAD

Arts du mythe —  episode 5


Directed by Philippe Truffault
Coproduction : ARTE France, Program 33,
Ludovic Segarra Productions, CNRS Images / media
2006, 26mn

 

 

At the heart of this film, a carved wooden head portrays a child’s face, seeping with a reddish resin and whose gaze, made of mirror fragments, gives a certain kind of fascination to those who look upon it. It is a Fang reliquary head brought from Gabon more than a century ago and is now exhibited at the Musée de Neuchâtel.

Fang reliquary heads hold an important place in Central African statuary. The finesse of their features, their mysterious patinas that still seep more than a century after their collection, fascinate westerners. They carry with them proof of their conversion to Christianity, but for the Fang it is not the figurines that count but the bones that they protect.

The reliquary head, at the heart of this film, leads us to the point of view of specialists of this aesthetic piece, to the contemporary view of the Fang which proclaims a certain permanence of their identity.

 


 

From the CT scan data collected in 2005, a video scan was built in 2014:

 


 

Lastly and as always, from the CT scan data collected in 2005, a 3D scan was built in 2016: