|Type of Object||
|Country of Origin||
Bamun Bronze Figure 15.5″ – Cameroon
1 in stock
About the Bamun (Bamum) People
“The grassland region, in south-west Cameroon, is a hilly and mountainous area covered by an equatorial forest in the south and a savannah in the north. Politically, the area is divided into numerous small independent kingdoms and chiefdoms, whose powers are counterbalanced by male and female societies. Since it’s colonization by the Germans in 1884, this entire region, in particular the Bamileke, Bamun and Tikar territories, has attracted the attention of Western scholars because of its artistic heritage.”
“The sultanate of Bamun is ruled by a single, sacred king, known as the Fon, who resides in the capital Fumban. He is assisted by three officials and seven hereditary councilors to rule the 80,000 people.”
“Statues representing ancestors are found all over the Bamun and Bamileke areas. They can be life size and can be incorporated into the backrest of an elaborate throne. These figures representing the king’s wives and his attendants are usually stored in a secret part of the palace and are displayed when a foreign dignitary visits or during important ceremonies headed by the king.”
Baquart, Jean-Baptiste. The Tribal Arts of Africa. New York: Thames and Hudson Inc. 1998. Print.
About Lost-Wax Casting Method
In-direct lost wax casting is the most basic form of metal casting seen in African cultures. Scholars have yet to establish exactly how it was introduced and developed in West African regions, but it is known that it was being used prior to Portuguese explorers’ arrival in the late 1400’s.
To use this method, the artist must begin with a low melting point material that can retain its shape but is soft enough to carve intricate details into, such as beeswax. Once the artist finishes carving the details, layers of clay are applied to the outside and then left to dry. The first layer of clay applied takes on the details, while the additional layers of coarser clay provide strength to the entirety of the mold. Once fired, the wax is then melted, leaving only the baked clay shell. Liquid metal is then poured into the empty clay mold. Once the metal has hardened and cooled, the clay exterior is then broken. This process reveals the finished metal object, which is always unique due to the mold being destroyed during the final process.
Many West African sculptors have altered this method by using multiple castings, which can be used to create hollowed and thin metal figures. One of the ways to achieve the hollowed result is creating the wax sculptures over a formed clay core. Iron spikes are used to attach the solid clay core to the clay layers of the mold. The metal is then poured inside and left to cool and hardened. At the end of the process, the clay core is then broken up and removed and the final brass work is finished. These hollowed pieces can then be united to create larger figures or vessels.
Apley, Alice. (2001, October) African Lost-Wax Casting Essay. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/wax/hd_wax.htm
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