Bamileke Pot

Beautiful Bamileke pot collected in the late 1960’s
Tribe: Bamileke

Origin: Grasslands Cameroon

Approx Age: Mid 20th Century

Materials: Wood

Dimensions cm: 53 tall x 30 widest point

Ref. Number: 1208


Lovely Bamileke pot consisting of a guard with a gun either side sat on a leopard, the receptacle or bowl sat on their heads with a nicely fitting lid adorning a bird. The bowl has a very tasteful patterning around it. The carving of this style pot is very traditional yet they do vary between the configuration of the leopard and Bamileke figures or both like in this occasion.

Provenance: Ex UK Private Collection


Bamileke pots are very endearing from the point of the western eye, yet the carvings and meanings to the Bamileke are very powerful and certain pots very sacred,. Some are carved for protection, good luck and others association with power, the leopard is usually within this association. Animals are depicted quite heavily within Bamileke carving, be it spiders, elephants, leopards, birds, buffalo and the Chameleon and I am sure there are others that i have missed. These are seen on pots, masks, staffs, house posts, drums, stools and also utilitarian objects and of course, royal thrones and chairs.

Various societies of the Bamileke also had their masks; some of them, according to the tradition, this had been created and consecrated by the ancestors themselves, others inspired great fear, there were masks decorated with beads, copper, and cowrie shells. Most of the kingdoms used the buffalo, stag, elephant, birds masks, and masks presenting male and female human heads. They are usually worn during state ceremonies such as the funeral of an important dignitary, or during annual festivities. During these ceremonies, the leading dancer wears an n’kang mask which bears a false beard, a coiffure split into two symmetrical parts and is often covered in royal paraphernalia such as cowrie shells and beads. The n’kang mask is followed by other masks representing a woman, a man or an animal. The buffalo and elephant masks represented strength and power, and the spider mask, intelligence, but most of the meanings are now lost.


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