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News releases

An Eyema Byeri at auction

Column African & Oceanian Arts, Appraisal and valuation

On Saturday 07 December 2013 the auction room of Alençon (Orne) will sell an Eyema Byeri from the Fang of the first half of the twentieth century


The Fang tribe

To the number of 4,000,000, the Fang - they were called Pahouins during the colonial period - are subdivided into many groups in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. Their art attracted the attention of Western artists in the early twentieth century.


What is an Eyema Byeri?


It is a masculine figure and / or feminine look stocky or lanky. Its legs bent ensure him a sitting or semi-sitting. The face has a pointed chin forward and an elaborate headdress whose complexity contrasts with the nudity of the statue. Gestures vary little: the arms are returned to the abdomen or tight along the bust while the hands can hold a cup, be attached, and placed on the belly or thighs. Finally, a projecting umbilicus is detached from the abdomen.


African & Ocean Art specialist


The Eyema Byeri embodies the ancestor of a protective blood lineage. It was fixed with a stake in the lid of a bark called Nsekh Byeri which contained the bones - skulls, tibias and / or femur - the illustrious dead of the group. Relics and their keeper is the essence of Byeri , ancestor worship appeared in the eighteenth - nineteenth century.


Expertise collection art africain et oceanien


The use of the dead included divination rituals and sacrificial libation during events such as birth, conflict, illness or death. They also consulted the ancestors to ensure fertility of women, success in business, cause wealth, protect individuals ... At each ceremony; the Eyema Byeri was coated with palm oil, as evidenced by the black and crusty patina visible here. Because they perceived the Byeri as a threat to the establishment of their power, the colonial powers destroyed a major part of the relics and reliquary figures. The practice of this cult and disappeared in the 1920s.


An unpublished sculpture


On December 7 to 14 pm, the the auctionroom of Alençon (33 rue Demées) will sell for the first time at auction a Eyema Byeri collected in Gabon and property of a notable from Bordeaux. Estimated at between 12 000 and 15 000 Euros, the statue was the subject in 2011 of scientific study conducted by the Laboratory for Analysis and Expertise in archeology and art (LAE) of Bordeaux. This study showed no traces of modern tools and an accumulation of patina on a period of several years, in three phases: 1. Manufacturing and worship; 2. Burial; 3. Worship reuse reliquary guardian.



-Gabon, présence des esprits, catalogue d’exposition du Musée Dapper (20 septembre 2006 - 22 juillet 2007), Editions Dapper, Paris, 2006

-Fang, catalogue d’exposition du Musée Dapper (21 novembre 1991 - 15 avril 1992), Editions Dapper, Paris, 1991

-Perrois L., Fang, collection Visions d’Afrique, 5 Continents Editions, Milan, 2006



Erik Le Bras

Expert en arts africains, précolombiens et amérindiens

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