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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Cameroon Grasslands : Bangwa Sculpture of an Attendant
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Bangwa Sculpture of an Attendant - PF.6138
Origin: Cameroon
Circa: 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 59" (149.9cm) high
Collection: African
Medium: Wood

Location: United States
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This large, life-size sculpture represents a court attendant of the king. Regal figures from the Bangwa kingdom have attracted attention in the west, and indeed, such figures (specifically the mother queen counterpart) are among the most famous in African art. Such sculptures depict the courtly entourage of the Bangwa king, including his numerous wives and attendants. This attendant is elegantly decorated in a rich assortment of painted necklaces, a fantastic collar, bracelets, and anklets. He carries a white rattle suggesting that he might be dancing in a ceremonial ritual. His dynamic pose enforces this ideal, conveying the rhythm and movement of the dance. Similar sculptures are generally stored in a secret chamber within the palace and are only brought out for display in order to impress a visiting dignitary or to mark important ceremonies headed by the king. Most likely, the figure represents a deceased attendant, or perhaps symbolizes many deceased attendants combined into one ideal ancestor. The vitality of this sculpture impresses the viewer as much as the large stature. Clearly, this work was meant to impress, revealing the wealth and luxury of the king. Today, this sculpture is a greater symbol for the richness and beauty of African art and the cultures of the continent. - (PF.6138)


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