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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Cameroon Grasslands : Bamileke Wooden Sculpture of a Buffalo Head
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Bamileke Wooden Sculpture of a Buffalo Head - PF.4186
Origin: Grasslands of Central Cameroon
Circa: 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 10.5" (26.7cm) high x 5.625" (14.3cm) wide
Collection: African
Medium: Wood

$1,200.00
Location: United States
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Description
The grasslands of Cameroon were divided into ninety kingdoms, ruled by a king and supported by non-secret societies. The king, or Fon, ensures the protection of his people, the fertility of the fields and the fecundity of the women! In ancient times, he was reputed to be able to change himself into an elephant, leopard or buffalo. Wood for masks were not completely hollowed out, as they were not worn, but rather placed atop a sort of bamboo cage surrounded by a tufted collar of palm fibers which conceal the head. These masks or wooden sculptures were considered instruments of society with political, judicial, and theatrical functions. They were brought out at the first rainfall, when the king himself appeared masked and danced in an elaborate ceremony.

The artist of this handsome sculpture must have studied the buffalo close up, appreciating the nature of the beast, for he has captured the character of this powerful animal. The water buffalo was much feared, even by other animals, and was treated with respect and caution. Its mouth is open in a menacing grin, its mighty teeth exposed. The eyes flare with warning, the ears alert for danger. It is these aspects which have so impressed people around the globe, fascinated in the strength of a beast which can also show a tender side in the raising of its young. Like its relative the bull, the buffalo has been a source of inspiration for artists since ancient times, and will no doubt continue to intrigue us for all time to come.
- (PF.4186)

 

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