Bamileke Atigue Mask

A monumental royal mask used in Bamileke ‘Atigue’ dance of the ancestors.
Tribe: Bamileke

Origin: Village ‘Bikom’ Grasslands Cameroon

Approx Age: Mid 20th Century

Materials: Wood

Dimensions cm: 61 long x 39 wide

Ref. Number: 1368


A wonderful Bamileke Atigue mask known as ‘Goyu,’ in monumental proportion. This mask really does have a character as big as the impact it has, great big teeth, large flared nostrils and ears and the very typical bulbous eyes of the Bamileke sculpture. Carved open weave  repetitive pattern on the coiffure. 

Provenance: Previously owned by Chief Nfon Yakoum, a previous ruler of Bikom. Acquired by Abdoulai Gbetnkom after his reign ended due to his death.


The ‘Goyu’ mask is worn by the chief and princes of the village of Bikom after giving the ‘skull of the ancestors’ libations of palm oil and salts, then the chief or one of the princes will carry this mask on the head of the skull asif it is being worn by the skull in dance in the memory of the ancestors, then worn again by the chief or one of his sons.

Though the king wears the clothes of the Moslems and though he is even the nominal leader of the Moslems as well as of the Christian churches, the traditional belief in God and the ancestors is still alive. The same is true for the old royal symbols, for example, the skin of a leopard and ivory tusks. Objects decorated with depictions of animals and human figures and also with beads are also the exclusive privilege of the king. Of highest importance are the royal stools. Because they are used by the king who was rubbed with special medicines at his enthronement, it is strictly forbidden and even dangerous for ordinary people to touch them.

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