African & Tribal Art :
Cameroon Grasslands : Bamun Wooden Sculpture of an Animal's Head
Bamun Wooden Sculpture of an Animal's Head - PF.4580
Origin: Grasslands of Central Cameroon
10.75" (27.3cm) high
Location: Great Britain
| Photo Gallery
The Cameroon Grasslans were once divided into
a mosaic of ninety kingdoms governed by a king,
or Fon, who was supported by social societies.
The Fon ensured the protection of his people and
guaranteed the fertility of the fields and
fecundity of the women. In the past, he was
believed to be endowed with supernatural
powers and coulod change himself into an
animal, especially the leopard, elephant, or
buffalo; each regarded as a symbol of strength.
Art was, and still is, very important in
maintaining the image of the king. Each
successive Fon gathered around him only the
finest artists, and occasionally created works of
art themselves, such as the Bamun king Njoya
who invented a type of decorative fabric motif.
This sleek and elegant head of an animal is
meticulously carved to give a maximum of effect.
There is a strong realism in the powerful
expression, and a certain stylization in the fine
lines flowing back in the form of hair or a mane.
The patina is very rich, the detail highly
expressive. Among Cameroon artists it was a
given fact that if an object was made expressly
for the Fon, it had to be perfect. Seeing and
touching this handsome sculpture, it is no
surprise to learn that artists of recognized ability
were generously rewarded.