Peoples & Societies


The forested area that extends from Cameroon to Gabon includes Equatorial Guinea and was home to the Fang peoples whose culture thrived in the 19th century. Fang villages and communities were organized around families and clans with common ancestors. Indeed, the cult of ancestors was central to Fang religion, and artists made reliquary figures to guard the bones and skulls of deceased relatives. Fang artists also carved wooden masks. As a migratory group, the Fang continually absorbed the cultural and artistic traditions of the peoples with whom they came into contact. European influence in the 1910s and 1920s resulted in a decline in the interest in the cult of ancestors, which was eventually replaced by Western religion, thereby causing Fang artistic production to die away. Today this ethnic group numbers two hundred thousand.

Excerpt from

Roslyn A. Walker, The Arts of Africa at the Dallas Museum of Art (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009), 301.

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