Bamum Tu-Ngünga Mask

This headdress mask is part of an elaborate ritual invented by King Ibrahim Mbouombouo Njoya c. 1860 – c. 1933 in Yaoundé,

Bamileke Bamoun

Tribe: Bamum, Bamoun

Origin: Grassfields, Cameroon

Approx Age: Early-mid 20th century

Materials: Wood, cane work, raffia

Dimensions cm: 70 tall x 24 wide

Ref. Number: 1770


An old and rare Bamum Tu-Ngünga mask. This special society makes use of the Tu Ngünga (also called Tugunga or Tungunga, meaning ‘head for the dance’; tu meaning ‘head’, ngunga meaning ‘dance’) headdress during the funerals of deceased Nsorro members, fons and other members of royalty. These were danced sat on top of the head with the use of the cone-shaped basketry adaptation which is fixed to the solid wooden head then adorned with raffia.

Provenance: Ex Abdoulaye Gbetnkom Collection, Bafoussam.



This headdress mask is part of an elaborate ritual invented by King Njoya who ruled for a long time over the Bamoun people of Cameroon from 1875 to 1933 the Palatouen dance name of Malatouen was introduced in 1910 during the events cancelled organized by the king in Foumban in order to strengthen both its popularity and its power over the Bamoun people.

The headdresses are also danced during community festivals and annual Nja harvest celebrations. Used to invoke images of deceased chiefs and their wives, tu ngünga masquerades always dance in male / female pairs with the male headdress represented wearing a Bamum prestige cap and the female headdress represented with an elegant female coiffure.

The Nsorro military society consists of male members that have killed an enemy of the Bamum fon during a battle and as such are recognised for their bravery and allegiance to the Fondom.

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