REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Cameroon
YEAR PRINTED: 1985
VALUE: 70 francs

This stamp was issued by the government of Cameroon in 1985 as part of a set celebrating the traditional culture of the region. The stamp depicts a helmet mask of the Bamileke ethnic group.

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REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Cameroon
YEAR PRINTED: 1985
VALUE: 60 francs

This stamp was issued by the government of Cameroon in 1985 as part of a set celebrating the traditional culture of the region. The stamp depicts a helmet mask of the Bamileke ethnic group.

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REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Cameroon
YEAR PRINTED: 1964
VALUE: 9 francs

This stamp was issued by the government of Cameroon in 1964 as part of a set celebrating the traditional culture of the region. The stamp depicts a dancer of the Kuosi Society of the Bamileke people.

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REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Cameroon
YEAR PRINTED: 1964
VALUE: 18 francs

This stamp was issued by the government of Cameroon in 1964 as part of a set celebrating the traditional culture of the region. The stamp depicts a mask from near the town of Bamenda, probably of the Bassa or Bamileke ethnic group.

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REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Cameroon
YEAR PRINTED: 1966
VALUE: 18 francs

This stamp was issued by the government of Cameroon in 1966 and depicts a crest mask of the Ekoi people, also known as the Ejagham people. This ethnic group inhabits southeastern Nigeria and Cameroon, and has an Ekpo (leopard) Secret Society that uses such masks in funeral celebrations.

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TITLE: Baka Luma Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Cameroon
ETHNICITY: Baka
DESCRIPTION: Luma mask of an antelope spirit
CATALOG ID: AFCM008
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Celebration; Hunting
AGE: early 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: pigment; kaolin clay

The Baka people of Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, and Gabon are also known as Bayaka people. They are semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers, formerly known as “pygmies.”  They maintain an animistic religion based on an omnipresent forest spirit named Jengi and a supreme god named Komba.

After a successful hunt, the Baka chant songs of thanksgiving to Jengi to the beat of a drum in a ritual called Luma.  Some masked dancers in raffia fiber suits represent forest animals, such as this one. One will appear fully covered in a woolly suit of red raffia, with nothing else showing, to represent Jengi.  The Baka do not make very extensive use of wooden masks, and so they are rarely seen.

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TITLE: Bamileke Buffalo
TYPE: crest mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Cameroon
ETHNICITY: Bamileke
DESCRIPTION: Buffalo Crest
CATALOG ID: AFCM003
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Agriculture; Celebration; Funeral; Status
AGE: 1990s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: kaolin clay

The Bamileke people of the Cameroon grasslands are closely related to their neighbors, the Babanki and Bamoun peoples, and have similar artistic styles. The Bamileke society is highly stratified by lineage, with certain royal lineages exclusively entitled to wear certain masks.  Lineage masks may represent persons, such as the kam, ngoin, or animals, and are used principally at funerals and annual harvest festivals. The kam mask is reserved for royalty and is the highest ranking mask, with ngoin, his wife, also highly ranked. Animal masks (other than the elephant) like this one are open to non-royal lineages to use.

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TITLE: Bamileke Helmet Mask
TYPE: helmet mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Cameroon
ETHNICITY: Bamileke
DESCRIPTION: Helmet Mask
CATALOG ID: AFCM002
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Agriculture; Celebration; Funeral; Status
AGE: late 1960s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: none

The Bamileke people of the Cameroon grasslands are closely related to their neighbors, the Babanki and Bamoun peoples, and have similar artistic styles. The Bamileke society is highly stratified by lineage, with certain royal lineages exclusively entitled to wear certain masks.  Lineage masks may represent persons, such as the kam, ngoin, or animals, and are used principally at funerals and annual harvest festivals. The kam mask is reserved for royalty and is the highest ranking mask, with ngoin, his wife, also highly ranked. Helmet masks like this one are open to non-royal lineages to use.

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TITLE: Bamileke Kuosi Society Mask
TYPE: hood mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Cameroon
ETHNICITY: Bamileke
DESCRIPTION: Mbap Mgteng elephant mask
CATALOG ID: AFCM001
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Kuosi Society
AGE: ca. 1970s-1990s
MAIN MATERIAL: dyed cotton cloth
OTHER MATERIALS: glass beads; cotton wadding; thread

The Bamileke people of the Cameroon grasslands are closely related to their neighbors, the Babanki and Bamoun peoples, and have similar artistic styles. The Bamileke society is highly stratified by lineage, with certain royal lineages exclusively entitled to wear certain masks.  Lineage masks may represent persons, such as the kam, ngoin, or animals, and are used principally at funerals and annual festivals for the harvesting of crops. The cloth elephant mask, known as mbap mgteng, depicts an animal of great power on the African plains. Its use is reserved for members of the elite Kuosi Society, who assist the fon (king) in maintaining social control.

Beads were historically imported from the Europeans and very costly, and so their use in a mask represents high status.  The more richly beaded the mask, the higher the wearer’s status.

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TITLE: Bamileke Monkey
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Cameroon
ETHNICITY: Bamileke
DESCRIPTION: Monkey Mask
CATALOG ID: AFCM007
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Agriculture; Celebration; Funeral; Status
AGE: 1970s-1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: pigment

The Bamileke people of the Cameroon grasslands are closely related to their neighbors, the Babanki and Bamoun peoples, and have similar artistic styles. The Bamileke society is highly stratified by lineage, with certain royal lineages exclusively entitled to wear certain masks.  Lineage masks may represent persons, such as the kam, ngoin, or animals, and are used principally at funerals and annual harvest festivals. The kam mask is reserved for royalty and is the highest ranking mask, with ngoin, his wife, also highly ranked. Animal masks like this one are open to non-royal lineages to use, except for the exalted elephant mask.

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