Bamileke Kom Mask
Origin: Village ‘Bikom’ Grasslands Cameroon
Approx Age: Mid 20th Century
Dimensions cm: 49 long x 32 wide x 25 depth
Ref. Number: 1372
A very rare and important Bamileke Kom mask known as ‘Kam’. Zig-zag open coiffure, protruding nose with a very smooth patina which looks to have been the point of pick up for carrying for many years, large and quite clumbersome teeth and protruding ears to the side of the head to which one has received damage and been repaired. This is only worn by one of the nine palace notables of the chief or king during the secret society (Kom) night dance .
The Kam mask is only allowed to be worn by one of the nine palace notables to the king or chief of the village. Thed notable would dance this mask in the secret night society (Kom) for the purification of the village and ask the ancestors to bring as much protection and longevity as they can for the king or chief of the village.
These helmet masks depict males of noble lineage and represent power and authority. Rank and other information is conveyed by the noble coiffures, double-lobed knitted caps and ornate crests using various motifs restricted to royalty.
Dancers wear these head crest masks not on their face, but on their head. The dancer can see from under the mask through a net or a piece of fabric.
Information source: Abdel Aziz Gbetnkom, Bamileke lineage.
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