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The people that are called “Fang” in the geographic or ethnographic literature number 800,000 and constitute a vast mosaic of village communities, established in a large zone of Atlantic equatorial Africa comprising Cameroon, continental equatorial Guinea and nearly the whole north of Gabon, on the right bank of the Ogowe River.The Fang practice a cult devoted to ancestor lineages, the bieri, whose aim is to both protect themselves from the deceased and to recruit their aid in matters of daily life. Bieri are reliquary figures placed by the Fang upon their bark boxes to personify the tribal soul, containing the skulls and skeletons of prominent deceased persons. The bieri also served for therapeutic rituals and, above all, for initiations of young males during the great so festival. The rites included consumption of a plant with stimulant properties, which induced a trance lasting for several hours, and the “resuscitation of the ancestors,” in which figures detached from the reliquaries were moved somewhat playfully from behind a raffia screen as puppets.
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