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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Masterpieces of African Art : Bangwa Wooden Sculpture of a Mother Queen
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Bangwa Wooden Sculpture of a Mother Queen - PF.5472
Origin: Cameroon
Circa: 1850 AD to 1920 AD
Dimensions: 44" (111.8cm) high
Catalogue: V26
Collection: African
Medium: Wood


Location: Great Britain
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Description
The Cameroon Grasslands is a large cultural area, which is inhabited by a large number of related peoples. These peoples can be divided into three smaller subgroups: Bamileke, Bamum, and Tikar. The Bangwa are one of the numerous smaller ethnic groups within the Bamileke complex. They are loosely affiliated with other groups in the complex, sharing many historical and political similarities while retaining their separate identity. All members of this group originally came from an area to the north and migrated in various complex patterns throughout the last several centuries. Fulani traders moving steadily southwards into Cameroon in the 17th century forced the southern drift of most of the current residents. The Bangwa were only officially separated from the Bamileke during colonial administration during the early 20th century. While regal figures from the Bangwa kingdom have achieved fame in the West, the Bangwa sculpture of the Mother Queen is among the most celebrated types in all of African art. The sculpture represents a dancing queen, carved in a dynamic, asymmetrical pose, itself a rare feature in African art. The ritual significance of this sculpture is revealed by the fact that it appeared only during the funeral ceremonies of kings. Otherwise, this sculpture and other similar royal portrait would have been kept inside a royal shrine, placed next to the skulls of their ancestors that were preserved and revered by the Bangwa. This sculpture is a memorial to a fallen queen, whose life will be forever honored. - (PF.5472)

 

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