BAMILEKE STYLE, BUSH COW MASK, CAMEROON
20th c.; Carved wood; 25 1/2" x 13 1/2" x 8 1/2"; Provenance: Allan Stone Collection, New York
Sale Price: $1,875
Estimate: $3,000 - $5,000
The Cameroon grassfield kingdoms were organized under a king (fon) and a group of titled nobles, essentially as a hereditary aristocracy. The display and ownership of masks were important indicators of lineage, privilege and prestige. Masks carried symbolically potent imagery, whether transmitted through zoomorphic and anthropomorphic forms or through adornment with costly and prestigious materials such as beads, cowrie shells, or brass. The bush cow (short horn buffalo) represents cunning, bravery and exceptional physical strength. Hunters made a gift of the heads to their king; bush cow skulls were hung over doorways and their horns were made into prestige drinking vessels. This bush cow mask is elegant and strongly sculptural, a good example of how these masks evolved stylistically in the 20th century.
Northern, Tamara. The Art of Cameroon. Washington D.C.: The Smithsonian Institution, 1984, pp. 157–162Northern, Tamara. Expressions of Cameroon Art. The Franklin Collection, 1986