This hand carved Bamun African mask is in typical form. First of all, notice the high arched eyebrows and puffy cheeks. Another typical feature is the open worked coiffure on his head, similar to a tiara. The Bamun recognized the importance of the skull. For that reason, nearly all decorated items show representations of the head.
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.