• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2257

    African and Oceanic Art: The Robert and Jean Shoenberg Collection

    14 November 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 42

    A FINE FANG MALE RELIQUARY FIGURE

    Eyema byeri, standing with the hands together holding a rectangular object against the abdomen, the face with crescent eyes, a carved vertical groove at the center of the nose continuing through the forehead to join the hairline, the small circular ears each pierced at the center, the coiffure in three incised ridges sweeping backwards at the nape of the neck, the spine with nine vertical grooves, four grooves joining the cylindrical navel and sex, the thighs and buttocks forming a single unit above the cylindrical support, fine old dark patina with extensive traces of oil

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A FINE FANG MALE RELIQUARY FIGURE
    Eyema byeri, standing with the hands together holding a rectangular object against the abdomen, the face with crescent eyes, a carved vertical groove at the center of the nose continuing through the forehead to join the hairline, the small circular ears each pierced at the center, the coiffure in three incised ridges sweeping backwards at the nape of the neck, the spine with nine vertical grooves, four grooves joining the cylindrical navel and sex, the thighs and buttocks forming a single unit above the cylindrical support, fine old dark patina with extensive traces of oil
    15¼ (39 cm. high)


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    See Perrois, L., La statuaire Fan, Gabon, Paris, 1972, pl.144, p.304 for a similar example.
    According to Louis Perrois, Mvaï ancestor figures, usually male, are easily recognizable: a rather stocky body with barrel-shaped abdomen, the arms held close to the sides with the hands joined at the base of the chest, the head always striking with its perfectly rounded forehead crowned with a typical coiffure with three large triangular striated plaits.
    The mass of the thighs resting on a retaining post (which would have been inserted and fixed by fiber or leather ties to the cover of the bark reliquary box which contained the ancestral skulls nsekh-byeri), is of classic Fang form with its slanting curvilinear thighs and thick exaggerated calves with angular forms. The semi-seated pose of the figure confers a feeling of tension and power which refers to its role as the supernatural guardian of the lineage relics.
    The two original carvings in this "style" are illustrated and named as such by G. Tessman in Die Pangwe vol.II, fig.44.

    Provenance

    Julius Carlebach, New York, 1954