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In Bamileke (Mbalekeo, Mileke) territories of Cameroon, the fon entrusted the guardianship of the sculptures to certain members of the community, because spreading around portions of the treasury was an insurance against frequent fires. In spite of the ethnic and stylistic variations found in the Grassland area, similar types of masks have been produced.
Some of them, according the tradition, had been created and consecrated by the ancestors themselves, others inspired great fear, there were masks decorated with beads, copper, and cowry 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 or during annual festivities. During these ceremonies, the leading dancer wears a n’kang mask which bears a false beard, and is often covered in royal paraphernalia such as cowry shells and beads. The n’kang mask is followed by other masks representing a woman, a man or an animal.
This mask was among 30+items from our collection filmed in "Wonderstruck" - an upcoming American drama film directed by Tod Hanes. The film stars Julianne More and Michelle Williams and has been selected to compete at the May 2017 Cannes Film Festival. Theater release is expected around Christmas 2017.
Exhibited at “Celebrating African-American Heritage”
AlfaArt Gallery, New Brunswick, NJ February 2014