|Title||Mambila Basket Reliquary Figure Cameroon African Art|
|Type of Object||Carving, figure, basket|
|Country of Origin||Cameroon|
|Materials||Wood, string, grass, possibly leather, gourd|
|Approximate Age||20th century|
|Overall Condition||Poor. Most of our pieces have spent decades on at least two continents, and have been treasured by several owners. Small splits, scrapes and cracks are a normal part of their patina attesting to their age and extensive use. We examine each piece carefully when we receive it and report any damage we find in our listings. Please look carefully at the pictures which may also reveal condition and damage.|
|Damage/Repair||Head repaired, basket broken, decoration loss, chips around mouth, and some water damage.|
This is a protective ancestor known as a "Tadep" and served for the Mambila focal point of ritual activity associated with the ancestor cult. Protective figures representing ancestors are kept close by shrines, often hanging on the shrine in large, loosely woven bags. These figures, carved by local specialists, are made of raffia bamboo tree pith, or local wood. In addition to its sculptural inventiveness Mambila sculpture is also known for the painting of the raffia bamboo pith figures in bright colors, however this wood figure has not been painted. Instead, it have a heavy encrusted surface.
The Mambila of Northern Nigeria are a relatively small group numbering about 25,000 living in a highland area stretching across the borders of Northern Nigeria and Cameroon. They are primarily agriculturalists whose lives are directed by the seasons and the bounty of their fields.
Recommended Reading: Tong, J.Y. 1967. "African Art in the Mambila Collection of Gilbert D. Schneider." see also 27 Tamara Northern, EXPRESSIONS OF CAMEROON ART, fig 10, p. 27