Art Bamoun Tribe
objects were symbols of position in the hierarchy; the number of art
pieces, the materials from which they were made, and their iconography
changed progressively as one descended or ascended the social
among sculptors was often great, for the artist's "office" was
not hereditary. Sculpture's goal was to commemorate and celebrate the
royal ancestors of the present fon. In the fon's palace, next to the
ancestral figures and the masks, one would also find headdresses, beaded
thrones, bracelets, necklaces, pipes, leopard skins, elephant tusks,
swords, commanders' sticks, fans, dishware, horns, and terracotta bowls.
large number of prestigious items of paraphernalia were produced within
the Grassland area, including large house-posts, door and window frames
carved with human and animal figures, thrones, stools and tables
decorated with small heads and figures, large bowls, carved horns for
royal feasts, anthropomorphic terracotta and bronze pipes. Musical
instruments such as anthropomorphic and zoomorphic drums, as well as
metal gongs, were played during royal and state ceremonies.
social life was oriented toward the conquest of surrounding
chieftaincies, and forays were made into neighboring lands: from this
stems a warrior mythology and an abundance of material symbols of
strength. The Bamum produced large and smaller sized figures encrusted
with beads and cowries.
northern part of Cameroon has been Islamized and has no sculpture; on
the other hand, the savannas of the west, the Grassland, are composed of
three ethnic groups with ancestors in common.
are the one million Bamileke spread over the southwestern plateaus, in
communities that have from 50,000 to 100,000 people; the 500,000
Bamenda-Tikar in the north; and. finally, the Bamum in the northwest,
with a population of 80,000. The Bamileke resisting slave raids with
suicide or rebellion, contributed very little to the Black population of
the New World.
artistic production of the people living in the Grassland of Cameroon is
closely associated with royal and societal ceremonies. To assert his
power, the king uses large figurines, thrones and prestige
Grassland was divided into ninety kingdoms governed by a king, the Fon,
supported by non-secret societies. In the past, the Fon was endowed with
supernatural powers that allowed him to change into an animal - an
elephant, leopard, or buffalo. He ensured the protection of his people
and guaranteed the fertility of the fields and the fecundity of the
The fon was responsible for
rituals of planting and harvesting, for the annual festival of the dry
season, for the opening of the collective royal hunt, and for
expeditions of war. His predecessor, who chose him from among his direct
heirs, excluding the eldest, appointed the fon.