The northern part of Cameroon has been Islamized and has no sculpture; on the other hand, the savannas of the west, the Grassland, are composed of three ethnic groups with ancestors in common. The Grassland is divided into 90 small independent kingdoms and chiefdoms, whose powers are counterbalanced by male and female societies. All young boys belong to association based on age classes, covering periods of five years each, focusing on military and technical apprenticeship. This mask would usually top a kind of bamboo cage surrounded by a tufted collar of palm fibers. The masks of this type with a complex design on top were specifically used during the royal festivities held within the king's palace. Up to thirty different masks might perform in an event.
The facial expressions of the two beasts on this mask can be interpreted in a number of ways. The very solemn stare of the large horned being and the body language and the grin of the mythical being standing atop of it constitute a play of different powers, objectives and personalities.
Provenance: Raskin Private Collection