210712 - Tribal used African Fang mask - Gabon.


Tribal used Very expressive african mask from the Fang, Gabon.

This type of mask is used for entertainment of the spectators on festive occasions.

Hand carved from a single piece of wood, with color pigments.

Height: 34 cm.

The Fang people, also known as Fãn or Pahouin, are a Bantu ethnic group found in Equatorial Guinea, northern Gabon, and southern Cameroon. Representing about 85% of the total population of Equatorial Guinea, concentrated in the Río Muni region, the Fang people are its largest ethnic group. The Fang are also the largest ethnic group in Gabon, making up about a quarter of the population. In other countries, in the regions they live, they are one of the most significant and influential ethnic groups.
The Fang people are relatively recent migrants into the Equatorial Guinea, and many of them moved from central Cameroon in the 19th century.

Early ethnologists conjectured them to be Nilotic peoples from the upper Nile area, but a combination of evidence now places them to be of Bantu origins who began moving back into Africa around the seventh or eighth century possibly because of invasions from the north and the wars of West Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. Their migration may be related to an attempt to escape the violence of slave raiding by the Hausa people, but this theory has been contested.

The Fang people were victims of the large transatlantic and trans-Saharan slave trade between the 16th and 19th century. They were stereotyped as cannibals by slave traders and missionaries, in part because human skulls and bones were found in open or in wooden boxes near their villages, a claim used to justify violence against them and their enslavement. When their villages were raided, thousands of their wooden idols and villages were burnt by the slave raiders. Later ethnologists who actually spent time with the Fang people later discovered that the Fang peopere not cannibalistic, the human bones in open and wooden boxes were of their ancestors, and were Fang people's method of routine remembrance and religious reverence for their dead loved ones.
The art works of Fang people, particularly from wood, iron and steatite, are regionally famous. Their wooden masks and idol carvings are on display at numerous museums of the world. Discovery of Fang artwork was source of inspiration for much of the European avant-garde artwork created during the 20th century. Much of the art is either used for their masquerades, or function as reliquaries and effigies. All are primarily made by the men of the village. There is reason to believe that many of these reliquaries were made during the Fang's migration as a form of burial which was also portable.