Bamileke Mask



Masks representing human figures were usually made by the sculptors to commemorate and celebrate the royal ancestors of the present Fon (the King). These masks were kept with other treasures like statues, thrones and instruments, in a special storage compartment in the Fon`s palace. The Bamileke believe that the Fon has the power of life and death over his subjects. He is associated with the elephant and the leopard, two commanding animals from the forests. It is said that the Fon can transform himself into these animals.

Masks are usually worn during state ceremonies such as the funeral of an important dignitary, war expeditions, royal hunts or during annual festivities. Distinguished individuals are honored by the appearance of masks at funerals and related events. Another occasion for the public display of masks is a festivity, organized by the King, known as Nja (Fon`s dance). These annual celebrations happen with the ending of the main harvest in late December or early January. The wood used for masks is not always completely hollowed out, for the mask does not cover the face of the wearer but is placed on top of a complete costume made from bamboo cage and palm fibers.

Wood , Pigment

Height : 11.5″ (29.2cm)