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Equatorial Guinea

Bieri (reliquary guardian)

Wood | 42 x 17 x 13 cm (whole object) | RCIN 99668

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Modern copy of a Bieri (reliquary guardian). The original Bieris would have stood in a family home of the Fang people, to remember a deceased ancestor. Traditional reliquary guardians protect and mark the location of ancestor’s remains. Statue of a standing man carved in wood. A symbolic lightweight statue of a man, recently excavated in Equatorial Guinea. Such items were used to store human ashes in the back and part of a human skull of the deceased in the head of the statue. In Equatorial Guinea, before the colonization era in the 1700s, the Fang people would utilize The Biere as a cult animistic path dedicated to ancestors and itermediaries between the Supreme Being and the living, inserting the remains of those who were considered by the community as benefactors or patriarchs. They are carved in cylindrical containers of certain trees, in order to preserve their heavenly attributes and strength, which could be transferred to the new generation.