230320 - Very expressive African Fang mask - Gabon.
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: 41 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.
They have a patrilineal kinship social structure. The villages have been traditionally linked through lineage. They are exogamous, particularly on the father's side. Polygamy was accepted in the culture of the Fang people. The independence of villages from each other is notable, and they are famed for their knowledge of animals, plants and herbs in the Equatorial forests they live in. They are traditionally farmers and hunters, but became major cocoa farmers during the colonial era.
Under French colonial rule, they converted to Christianity. However, after independence their interest in their own traditional religion, called Biere, also spelled Byeri, has returned, and many practice syncretic ideas and rites. One of the syncretic traditions among Fang people is called Bwiti, a monotheistic religion that celebrates Christian Easter but over four days with group dancing, singing and psychedelic drinks
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 worldThe 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.