Bamileke Mu’po Healing figure
‘Mu’po’ figures assist healers and soothsayers in healing illnesses, as well as for medicinal and other forecasts.
Origin: Dschang, West Cameroon
Approx Age: Mid 20th Century
Dimensions cm: 53 tall
Ref. Number: 1775
A very charismatic Bamileke Mupo healing fetish figure. This was collected from Dschang in the west of the grasslands of northwest Cameroon. Most of the ‘mu’po’ figures are assigned to the Bamileke, but the Bangwa and Bafo also have very similar medicinal figures. ‘Mu’po’ figures assist healers and soothsayers in healing illnesses, as well as for medicinal and other forecasts. They are recognisable by the formal over-emphasis of their mostly ball-shaped round abdomens. Twin figures had added power, these were used for the rites of birth cults for twins, clairvoyance but predominantly healing.
Bamileke Mupo figures are widely used amongst the Bamileke Bangwa Bafo by the healers of the villages/towns, different Mupo’s have different uses, mostly they are small single figures, twin figures, ivory figures and even beaded Mupo’s. Ivory figures are/were the most powerful of healing figures, where wooden figures were used for single people for minor problems an ivory piece was used for broken bones and to rid the disease from villages as a whole. The Mupo figures were kept by the healers of the villages yet on occasions they were left outside the house of a sick person to aid the healer whilst he was not there.
Bamiléké traditional medical practitioners include herbalists, diviners, spirit mediums, and religious specialists. Many healers combine divination with herbal medicine. In the past, diviners, spirit mediums, and religious specialists had higher status than herbalists. This relation is now reversing, along with a trend toward more individual and fee-for-service treatment. Contemporary Bamiléké seek medical assistance from both private and public hospitals and clinics as well as from their rich array of traditional practitioners
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