Bamileke tribal Art
Bamileke masks on display was made to the honor king (Fon) and or
important chiefs. The piece is regarded as an object of power and is
displayed during important rituals and ceremonies, to
commemorate and celebrate the royal ancestors of the present Fon. The
Colorful beads are the most important part of this mask and the abstract
patterns are symbols of great wisdom. The cowry shells depict wealth.
The power of the Fon also
ensures the protection of his people and guarantees the fertility of the
fields and the fecundity of the women.
masks are also used during:
the annual festival of the dry season,
the opening of the royal hunt,
expeditions of war.
masks bearing human and animal figures:
Fon supported by non-secreted societies was believed to have
supernatural powers that allowed him to change from man into animal,
namely elephant, lizard or buffalo. This allowed him to create a link
between the human and spirit realm, to seek guidance from his ancestors.
This crossing of the boundaries is only done during special rituals.
elephant and buffalo masks also represent strength and power.
Various occupations since the 17th century
led to the Bamileke people moving to the South where they intermarried
with the Bamum people, this resulted in a cross fertilization of ideas
and artistic skills.
Bamilike recognize a supreme god (Si), but they more commonly pay homage
to their ancestors. They believe that ancestral spirits are embodied in
are believed to make the soil and land more fertile and are responsible
for planting and harvesting crops. The Bamileke men assist with the
clearing of the land and are excellent hunters.
Western Grasslands were part of extensive trade routes connecting with
the seaport of Douala and through trans-Saharan traders including the
Fulani and Hausa to the north.
Bamileke tribal chief or Fon is in control of the village and is
assisted by a council of elders. The chief is in direct control of all
the land that belongs to a given village and is seen as the dispenser of
supreme justice. Social behavior within the village is further
controlled through a series of extensive age-grade associations and
secret societies, both of which fall under the auspices of the village