In The Field, Part I

Cameroonian Prestige Art In Context

October 05, 2016 By: Adenike Cosgrove

We all appreciate the beauty of classic art from Africa but we sometimes miss the connection between the objects and their cultural setting. Fortunately for us, a number of ethnographers, anthropologists and adventurers have captured the masquerades, royal ceremonies and palace scenes of Cameroon. See the prestige arts of Cameroon come to life in their natural palatial settings in this first set of field photographs.


Bamum fon (king) Njoya, sat on his mandu yenu throne.
(1912)

Photographer: Marie-Pauline Thorbecke
Source: Bildarchiv der Deutschen Kolonialgesellschaft

Babungo fon Zake with his wives holding a nka’a ndü palm-wine beaded calabash, his ndu nyiet drinking horn and his ki smoking pipe.
(1938)

Photographer: Unknown
Source: A History of Art in Africa. Monica Blackmun, Robin Poynor, Herbert M. Cole

Bamum princes, Nzikam and Mfo-Rifum, sons of fon Njoya standing next to a drum.
(1911 / 1915)

Photographer: Anna Wuhrmann
Source: Bibliothèque du Défap-Service

Bamileke Basoa fon with his attendant holding a prestige ki smoking pipe and a horse-tail beaded fly-whisk.
(1920)

Photographer: Frank H. Christol
Source: Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford
Foumban fon with his brass ceremonial ki smoking pipe.
(1930 / 1960)

Photographer: Unidentified
Source: Bibliothèque du Défap-Service

Enthronement of Kom fon Jinabo II, with him wearing his ashetu prestige cap. Three mbang royal ancestor figures representing the fon, the Queen mother, and the fon's first wife were present during the coronation of the fon.
(1976)

Photographer: Hans-Joachim Koloss
Source: University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA)

Bandjom fon holding his prestige nyi sword and sheath.
(1913)

Photographer: Hugo Bernatzik
Source: New York Public Library: A Dark Continent
Fumban installation of the tu panka, head of the Bamum military. The elected tu panka walks out of the palace carrying a tu mola head crest on his head as soldiers follow him in celebration.
(1913)

Photographer: Hugo Bernatzik
Source: New York Public Library: A Dark Continent

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