The deceased person had knowledge and wisdom and his death must not interrupt his teaching. The anthropomorphic fetish is the guardian of the reliquary containing the bones. The ancestor is not anonymous but the colonization deleted the oral traditions that applied to him.
The statuette is necessary for the initiation rites. The adolescent drinks a hallucinogenic concoction before spending a whole night in the presence of the figures of the ancestors. In this carefully organized delirium, he understands how he shall behave throughout his adult life.
This figure of the night is in blackened wood. Some Fang tribes add a refinement: large circular eyes in glued and pinned copper or brass have a hypnotizing effect. It is not surprising that the figures of the byeri, quite common, have fascinated the first European connoisseurs in the early twentieth century more than any other category of African tribal art.
On December 3 in Paris, Christie's sells one of the most described pieces, the Guillaume-Fourquet specimen acquired in 1965 by André Fourquet at the auction sale of the Paul Guillaume collection. It is estimated € 2M, lot 76.
This figure 55 cm high has two remarkable features: its black oozing lacquered patina is in very good condition and it still has one of its copper eyes. The loss of both forearms at the elbow can not be an accident or a coincidence. It has probably been voluntarily amputated at the time of its collection to prevent that its magic powers benefit the godless Europeans.
SOLD for € 3.8M including premium
I invite you to watch the video shared by Christie's :