As a migratory people, the Fang have the custom of gathering the bones & skulls of deceased chiefs and important community members (together with magical substances) into cylindrical bark containers, instead of burying them in graves. Crowning the containers are figural sculptures, made from wood, believed to embody the guardian spirits of family ancestors held within the containers; "the physical embodiment of their ancestor’s vital force". These ancestor shrines are known as nsek bieri (also called nsek byeri) and the guardian figures protecting the shrines are known as bieri (also called eyema bieri, eyema-o-bieri or nlo bieri).
It is believed that these shrines allow the living to communicate with ancestors in the spirit realm through offerings made to the nsek-bieri shrines. Bieri figures are consulted before important tasks are undertaken and these figures are also used during the initiation of young men into the bieri cult.
NOTE: The Fang are a migratory people and as such styles change over time as specific groups are influenced by the styles of new regions.
Common features among all bieri:
Regional variations (Betsi sub-group / Southern Fang group):