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Dimensions: L:18.5in W:12.2in D:18.1in
Bamileke masks are traditionally carved from wood, featuring various animal and human motifs that hold cultural and spiritual significance within Bamileke society. The addition of beads to these masks is a relatively recent development, influenced by the introduction of glass beads through trade and colonial interactions. The beadwork on Bamileke masks is meticulously done, with skilled artisans using a needle and thread to attach individual beads onto the mask's surface. The beads are often arranged in intricate patterns and can create detailed designs, symbols, and geometric motifs. The use of beads on Bamileke masks adds a vibrant and visually captivating element to the artwork. The beads not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of the masks but also serve as a form of status and prestige, highlighting the skill and craftsmanship of the mask maker. Bamileke masks with beadwork are used in various ceremonial and ritual contexts, including royal events, initiation ceremonies, funerals, and cultural performances.
About the Tribe
The Cameroon-Bamileke Bantu people cluster encompasses multiple Bantu ethnic groups primarily found in Cameroon, the largest of which is the Bamileke. Between the 11th and 14th centuries, they moved to what is now northern Cameroon. They moved further south and west in the 17th century to avoid being forced to convert to Islam by the Fulani tribe. They live in a hilly and mountainous area in south-west Cameroon known as "The Grassland," which is bordered on the south by an equatorial forest and on the north by a savannah.
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