Posted 10 years ago
Bamum (Bamoum, Bamoun, Bamun, Banun, Mom, Mum, Mun) GRASSLAND, CAMEROON Brass Pipe
The northern part of Cameroon has been Islamized and has no sculpture; on the other hand, the savannas of the west, the Grassland, are composed of three ethnic groups with ancestors in common. There are the one million Bamileke spread over the southwestern plateaus, in communities that have from 50,000 to 100,000 people; the 500,000 Bamenda-Tikar in the north; and, finally, the Bamum in the northwest, with a population of 80,000.
The Grassland was divided into ninety kingdoms governed by a king, the fon, supported by non-secret societies. In the past, he was believed to be endowed with supernatural powers that allowed him to change into an animal – an elephant, leopard, or buffalo. He ensured the protection of his people and guaranteed the fertility of the fields and the fecundity of the women. The fon was responsible for rituals of planting and harvesting, for the annual festival of the dry season, for the opening of the collective royal hunt, and for expeditions of war. The fon was appointed by his predecessor, who chose him from among his direct heirs, excluding the eldest. Art objects were symbols of position in the hierarchy; their number, the materials from which they were made, and their iconography changed progressively as one descended or ascended the social ladder. Competition among sculptors was often great, for the artist’s “office” was not hereditary. Sculpture’s goal was to commemorate and celebrate the royal ancestors of the present fon. In the fon’s palace, next to the ancestral figures and the masks, one would also find headdresses, beaded thrones, bracelets, necklaces, pipes, leopard skins, elephant tusks, swords, commanders’ sticks, fans, dishware, horns, and terracotta bowls.
Bamum Royal Bronze Elephant Effigy Pipe Cameroon
The age royal bronze elephant effigy pipe, Bamum people, Cameroon is unknown. Features a large elephant head bowl and anthropomorphic face on the front of the pipe. It is decorated with figures that commemorate the royal ancestors. The pipe was created as a prestige object rather than smoking. The intended owner would have been a member of a secret society related to the elephant, or possibly have totemic links with the elephant.
Female cup-bearer, Luba attributed to the Master of Buli
Within this tradition of royal Luba artifacts, the styles of a few artists have come to be recognized and singled out. Scholars attribute this stool to the Buli Master, who was known to imbue his works with particular emotional intensity. Other formal characteristics of the Buli Master's corpus include enlarged, flattened hands turned palm forward; a heavy, four-lobed coiffure crisply undercut at the back of the neck; and an expressive, mournful face. With its slightly aquiline nose, arching brows, and pursed lips, the face wears an expression often interpreted as suffering by Western viewers. The entire sculpture, carved of a single piece of soft wood, is now covered with a lustrous patina, the result of multiple applications of oil to the its surface.
As it is an important part of the child birth rituals, the Luba places a Female cup bearer outside the door of the young woman expected to give birth in order to evoke the images of a female ancestor. As part of the culture, passers-by leave offerings.