Posted 10 years ago
These items were purchased from an African trader from Mali who dealt extensively with items imported from various African tribes. Obtained in 1999, from Bamileke, Chiefdom of Bafu Fondong Western Province, Cameroon.
The royal mask representing the elephant is the symbol of royal power as well as an important element of the arts of the Glasslands-particularly in the north and west of the Bamileke plateau. This simplified head of an elephant, with crescent-shaped tusks and large ears, at the front of which are eyes in relief, was danced by royals who were members of the Elephant Society, a prestigious palace association, during their annual festival. . The lower proper right helmet rim and ear have a strip of insect loss. There is slight loss/abrasion on the outer middle of the proper right tusk, and a similar situation along the mid-point of the top of the trunk. It was used during a very dramatic dance, the nso or nzen, an elephant dance executed within the royal enclosure ( teh tsa) by princes and the nobility of chiefdom who are members of powerful secret society such as the Kwsoi, the Kemjyeh or the Manjong.
The large storage chest, on the other hand, is rather unique. It is elegantly craved with stylizes elephants on both ends of the pot as well as the top. The pot shows evidence of aged patina with large cracks about it's circular ears. Used by by princes and the nobility of chiefdom who are members of powerful secret society such as the Kwsoi, the Kemjyeh or the Manjong as sacred storage vessels, these pots are said to hold special powers.
Historically, the Bamun and the Bamileke were united. The founder of Bamileke (Nchare) was the younger brother of the founder of Bafoussam. The Bamileke are a group of the Baladis, who are said to be the real native people of Egypt.
It is believed that the Bamileke went down the Nile, crossed many rivers and cliffs using extraordinary mystical means. They crossed the kingdoms of Ouaddai and Kanem and reached the Lake Chad region, after several moments of settlements. Their long journey from Egypt to the Tikar region, where they settled for long, lasted over two centuries (9-11th century).
Most of Bamileke people are attached to their native ancestral tradition. The head of a lineage is considered as the spiritual leader of the extended family. They have strong belief in healers and diviners.