Fang Ngang Figural Ritual Broom
Fang Ngang Figural Ritual Broom
Fang people, late 20th century, Cameroon or Gabon, Central Africa
Unusual and interesting ritual broom. The Fang people are found in northern Gabon, southern Cameroon and the Rio Muni region in the Equatorial Guinea. The Fangs believe in the existence of a mighty and eternal god (called Mebe'e or Mebere) who is viewed as the creator of the known world. Mebe'e not only blew life into Earth, but also the creator of the first ancestor/ lesser god (called Ndzame or Sekome), who was fashioned from clay and whose form was first as a lizard. Mebe'e placed this lizard in the water for eight days, on the final day, the lizard gratefully emerged from water as a man. The Fang also believe that Mebe'e was once god with three different aspects: Ndzame, Mebe'e, and Nkwa. These three parts consulted with one another during the creation process and particularly in the creation of the first man. Under French colonial rule, Fangs converted to Christianity. After their independence their interest in their own religion (Bieri or Byeri), has returned. The Fang began assimilating aspects of Christianity and bieri into hybrid religion (called Bwiti). To achieve their mediation for solving the daily life obstacles, the Fangs practise the cult of the ancestors. They also maintain tribal cohesion through the So, Gil and Ngi societies.
Exceptional ritual broom with carved ancestor figure head. The eyes are made of metal roundlets. The head and long neck acts as a handle for the broom, which is made of reeds. Such broom was an important oracle staff used by priests, witches (Ewu), diviners and village shamans (Ngang). The use of the ritual brooms are determined by the priest who use them as a fly whisk or a broom to chase away or sweep malevolent spirits. They were also used to punish people who swore false oaths and broke pact. The village diviner would ask individuals involved in dispute to jump the broom in order to claim their innocence. Ancestral spirits would punish individuals who will not tell truth. When not in use, broom would be placed on the shrine along with other ritual paraphernalia. Good condition. Beautiful dark patina. Age-related wear and signs of use. Size approx. 76,0cm x 8,5cm x 11,0cm.
Provenance: Finnish private collection
References and further reading:
Fang Religious Experience - Bwiti. An Ethnography of the Religious Imagination in Africa, J. W. Fernandez, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982.
Fang, 101lasttribes, (https://www.101lasttribes.com/tribes/fang.html)
A Masterwork That Sheds Tears... and Light: A Complementary Study of a Fang Ancestral Head, Roland Kaehr, UCLA James S. Coleman African Studies Center. 40, pp. 44–57 (https://www.jstor.org/stable/i20447849)
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