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HOME : Decorative Arts : African Sculptures : Grasslands Wooden Sculpture Man Smoking
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Grasslands Wooden Sculpture Man Smoking - CK.0114
Origin: Africa
Circa: 20 th Century AD

Collection: Decorative Art
Medium: Wood

Location: United States
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This imposing sculpture of a smoker displays characteristics of Cameroonian art. The figure is seated, implying high status, and is particularly spindly in terms of build, with elongated limbs and a long, thin torso. The body is naked with prominent male genitalia revaled. The figure is holding the long pipe of a hookah in his hands.

Cameroon contains various tribes that share social and cultural characteristics and which are integrated into a widespread network of small, quasi- independent kingdoms. The main ethnic groups are the Bamileke, the Bamenda-Tikar and the Bamum. The nature of rule and hierarchy in these groups varies somewhat, but in general terms the king/fon/leader of the group and his courtly associates are equipped with regalia and prestige objects for the general purpose of conspicuous consumption. Societies and even private individuals were permitted to hold various sorts of regalia according to their status, leading to a proliferation of craftsmen and artists who occupied valuable social roles within the community. Most of the figures commemorate deceased royals whose memory is sacred to the continuity of the royal succession.

The large size of this piece implies that it had a centralised rather than personal role. The symbolism is uncertain, but the cost of tobacco and the seated posture of the figure suggest that it represents somebody of considerable prestige, probably a king. - (CK.0114)


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