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Bamileke Elephant Mask Cameroon African Art 41 Inch

Product #: 113521
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Title Bamileke Elephant Mask Cameroon African Art 41 Inch
Type of Object Headdress, Mask
Country of Origin Cameroon
People Bamileke or Bamun
Materials wood
Approximate Age 20th century
Dimensions Height: 41.5 Inches
Width: 13.5 Inches
Depth: 7.5 Inches
Overall Condition fair
Damage/Repair some holes, cracks and gouges

Additional Information: An elephant mask carved of wood with a long trunk.  This mask comes from the Bamileke people of Cameroon. Among the Bamileke, such mask were used during the Kuosi society ceremonies. Kuosi is a regulatory society formed by members of royalty to enforce the laws and tradition. The elephant and also leopard are those animals related to this society and connected with the power and wealth of the kingship. These animals have become the icons of this society represented by the masks and their designs. They are worn as headpieces on the head.

The art of the grasslands area of Cameroon is a royal art, devoted to the veneration of ancestors and the enrichment of the Fon, or main chief. The Cameroon Grasslands is a large and extremely diverse cultural area, inhabited by a large number of related peoples. The main groups are the Bamileke, Bamum, and Bamenda Tikar. The Bamileke are one of the artistically elite groups of the Cameroon Grasslands, along with the Bamun and the Bamenda Tikar. These groups produce an array of beautiful and unique objects, which are used almost exclusively by the royal courts of the regional Fon. There are also numerous, still-smaller groups, which are loosely affiliated with one another and share many historical and political similarities. All of these groups originally came from an area to the north, scattering in complex patterns during the last several centuries. Fulani traders moving steadily southwards into Cameroon during the 17th century forced the southern movement of most of the current residents. The dense forests, though now disappearing, and the scattered nature of the many tiny villages, have made the study of this area a daunting task for ethnologists, and has prevented the development of a "school of thought" concerning their artistic output.


Recommended Reading: Paul Gebauer, 1979, ART OF CAMEROON, Oregon: Portland Art Association;Tamaran Northern, 1984, THE ART OF CAMEROON, Washington D.C.: The Smithsonian Institution