TITLE: Babanki Elephant Crest
TYPE: crest mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
DESCRIPTION: Elephant Crest
CEREMONY: Celebration; Funeral
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: glass beads; dried seeds; wicker
The Babanki people of the Cameroon grasslands are closely related to their neighbors, the Bamileke people, and have similar artistic styles. The Babanki worship ancestral spirits and collect their skulls as the patrimony of the lineage. Babanki 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, or animals, like this one, and are used principally at funerals and annual festivals. The elephant mask is reserved for lineages close to royalty, and the wearer of this mask assumes the second most prestigious position after the human mask.
Babanki masks are typically made of carved wood, sometimes with white kaolin clay coloring. This one is assiduously beaded in the style typical among the Bamileke people.