Bamum ‘Ndu Nyiet’ Royal Drinking Horn

These royal horns were used by the Fon to drink from and to pour libations over prestige masks and other important objects during ceremony.
Tribe: Bamum

Origin: Grasslands Cameroon

Approx Age: 1950-60

Materials: Black buffalo horn and bronze

Dimensions cm: 29 x 14

Ref. Number: KNPC

A beautifully carved Bamum royal drinking horn known as ‘Ndu Nyiet’. This lovely black buffalo horn is carved exquisitely with human faces, elephants, frogs, spiders, royal bells, buffalo and drums, with a bronze finale at the narrower end of the horn, absolutely stunning… The care taken to carve this so precise is outstanding.

Provenance: Owned and used by Chief Agouafo Bali of North Cameroon


Among the many kingdoms (fondom) of the Cameroon Grassfields, the central fon (chief) and a number of secret societies are responsible for the social rule of each kingdom.

As a sign of social status and rank within the community, men within kingdoms of the Grassfields (including the Bamum, Bamileke, Bangwa and Tikar kingdoms) possess a ‘title cup’ (nda nyiet), one of the most precious heirlooms passed down through the generations to the most honourable member of the family. As a status symbol, the fonand the heads of his social organisations hold the most prestigious nda nyiet, the buffalo drinking horn. Family heads, village elders, commoners and women all possess drinking horns made from different materials. The vessels are used to pour and drink palm-wine during important rituals that safeguard the wellbeing of the family, community and kingdom. The fon and his elite group of nobles also display their horns during important ceremonies and festivals. It is also believed that, once initiated through rituals and magic spells, the nda nyiet holds the secrets of each family in possession of one and as such much be treated with reverence.

Fon drinking horn: Made from black buffalo horn.Family head drinking horn: Made from dwarf cow horn. Traditional elite drinking horn: Made from antelope horn. Commoner drinking horn: Made from cow horn. Youth and women drinking horn: Made from gourd head

Relief carving of human figures, royal animals and geometric motifs. Animal motifs include lions, elephants, buffalos (myet), crocodiles (all considered royal animals), spiders (ngame; meaning wisdom / divination) and frogs (tetuo; meaning prosperity)

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