Not on View

Mask

Photo Credit: Rich Sanders, Des Moines

Mask

Artist: Anonymous
Date: date unknown
Medium: Wood
Dimensions:
Overall: 18 x 14 x 17 1/2 in. (45.7 x 35.6 x 44.5 cm.)
Credit Line: Des Moines Art Center; Julian and Irma Brody African Art Collection, 1982.21
Accession number: 1982.21
Classification: African/Oceanic/Pre-Columbian
Copyright:Public Domain
Label TextThe Cameroon is located on the west coast of Africa and is bounded by NIgeria, Chad, Gabon, the Congo and Equatorial Guinea. The Bamileke Grasslands, where the chiefdom is located, is in west central Cameroon and is inhabited principally by Bantu-speaking peoples. Bamileke artists are prodigious and imaginative carvers and their work is charcterized by a boldness of conception rather than delicate carving, forceful and simplified forms and not fidelity to appearance. Their sculpture is most often emphatically three-dimensional, with boldly swelling contours and a rugged asymmetry. Incised around the Art Center's mask are some forty holes from which strands of raffia were hung. The mask is composed of four faces which are divided laterally by half-circular discs. Each face is defined by a continuous, horizontal mouth, large, flared nostrils and sharply undercut cheeks. Immediately above the open and incised oval eyes is a concave and perforated headdress which is open at the top of the mask. Whereas the rustic carving and aggressive delineation of forms is consistent with Bamileke sculpture, this is apparently the only know mask of its type to bear four faces. Masks tend to have both religious and secular fiunctions in Cameroon. They are employed for ritualistic purposes at night and as agents of social control during the day, appearing at agricultural festivals, public dances and on market days. About ten of these spectacular masks have been collected in various villages in the Cameroun Grasslands since 1904, when a German officer found one in the Chiefdom of Bacham, Pierre Harter states that many copies have been made for export by the Bandjoun carver Paul Tahbou, who claims that the older masks in European collections, and presumalby this example, were made by his father, grandfather, and another artist. Source: Bulletin, January-February, 1984.
Published ReferencesPierre Harter, LES MASQUES DITS "BATCHEM" ARTS D' AFRIQUE Noire, No. 3, 1974, pp. 32-34, illus. pl. no. 35

Des Moines Art Center Bulletin, Jan.- Feb.,1984, cover repro.
entirely unexpected