Returned to lender The Met accepts temporary loans of art both for short-term exhibitions and for long-term display in its galleries.

Sculptural Element from a Reliquary Ensemble: Head

Fang peoples, Betsi group

Not on view

This freestanding head with distinctive winged coiffure was among the first African works exhibited in an art gallery. Such heads and full-bodied figures, exactingly carved by Fang masters, crowned familial altars, which were composed of a bark receptacle filled with relics related to the most distinguished members of an ancestral lineage.
The exact circumstances surrounding the removal of this work from Africa are not known. However, by 1914, it had been exhibited at Robert Coady’s Washington Square Gallery in New York. The head therefore became the first African artifact displayed in New York alongside art by modern masters such as Juan Gris and Henri Rousseau.

Sculptural Element from a Reliquary Ensemble: Head, Wood, Fang peoples, Betsi group

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.