Thank you very much for your detailed response on the "unknown figure" I submitted to the group for identity. As usual you have done some fine research and provided insight.
For anyone who may be interested, let me say a little more about why I think that it is may be Bubi. I bought the figure some years ago. The dealer who sold it to me said he was sure that it was from Equatorial Guinea. He called it Fang. When I said that it didn't look like any Fang figure I had ever seen, he said something like it was from some group among the Fang. I decided to telephone a Cameroonian friend who used to be a museum director since he knew a lot about the art in the area. Without telling him that I had bought anything, I asked him what other ethnic groups there were in Equatorial Guinea. He told me about the Bubi people, who at that time I didn't know anything about. When I asked him if the Bubi carved any figures, he immediately
described a type of figure that very much described the figure that I bought. So I labeled it Bubi in my records.
Over the years I have done some casual research. Yet, until this day, I have yet to find a photo of a Bubi wood carving. I have read that the Bubi have figures and that they venerate the dead and their remains. Because, of course, there are groups on the mainland who place figures over the bones of the deceased and because of the unusual bottom of the figure, I have to wonder if that was not its function. The two group members of the other Yahoo group thought that it was Ewe or Fon. Since Togo and Benin are only a boat ride away, there could be some kind of relationship there also.
Now, in one of the sources that you provide, Lee, I have learned about the importance of Bisela, an ancestral woman with some similarity to the Blessed
Mother, who is venerated by the Bubi, a matrilingual culture: "...for centuries the Bubi have seen the spirit of the great mother, Bisila, as the maximum protector of life. She is especially venerated by Bubi women who see her as representing them in her great role as giver of life. Her influence is felt at all levels of society. A papal bull sealed her coronation as patroness of the archdiocese of Malabo." So, another theory is that Bisela could also relate to the importance of this female figure. Perhaps in relation to fertility (women's fertility is one of the Bubi holidays. Or as a major ancestor to venerate, since ancestor worship is an important component of Bubi religion. In summary, although I can't yet be sure of the ethnic identity of the figure, I will stay with the Bubi theory in my records.
Since, as you say, information on Equatorial Guinea tends to be in Spanish, this may be a reason why little is known of the Bubi in our dominant
Anglophone and Francophone world of African art research. Perhaps there is a Spanish speaking member out there who may be inspired to research this subject more? Or perhaps someone might see a Bubi figure in a museum in Spain?
PS: As I was writing this response, I was uploading a video of African art on to YouTube. In the video there are hundreds of African wood carvings. Just as I got to the end of the this message, the video processing completed. Of all the possible frames, YouTube chose the same frame grab of the Bubi figure as the video thumbnail that I used as the primary photo I submitted to the group. I'm serious. I don't know YouTube's system for choosing thumbnails and I'm not superstitious, but this is certainly a strange coincidence.
Thank you again,