TITLE: Bamileke Buffalo
TYPE: crest mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Cameroon
ETHNICITY: Bamileke
DESCRIPTION: Buffalo Crest
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
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Agriculture; Celebration; Funeral; Status
AGE: ca. 1980s
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
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
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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TITLE: Bamileke Kam Crest
TYPE: crest mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Cameroon
ETHNICITY: Bamileke
DESCRIPTION: Kam
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Agriculture; Celebration; Funeral; Status
AGE: 1980
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: glass beads; adhesive; yarn

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 kam mask is reserved for royalty and is the highest ranking mask, with ngoin, his wife (whose mask is similar but in a helmet shape), also highly ranked.

Bamileke masks are typically made of carved wood, sometimes with white kaolin clay coloring. This one is assiduously beaded, which indicates the high status of the wearer, as beads and brass are materials reserved to chiefs and their kin.

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