West/Central Africa, Cameroon, Batcham region, Bamileke, ca. first half of the 20th century CE. An enormous, hand-carved, stool-shaped wooden helmet mask in the form of an abstract human head. The plateaued cheeks trace upward to narrow ovoid eyes and flank a narrow nose, with perky ears on either side of a wide mouth lined with thin teeth, and a stocky cylindrical neck serves as the base. The coiffure exhibits dozens of curvilinear striations which form layers of hair with added pink pigment. Several perforations line the neck and enable the suspension of a larger costume, and faint traces of pink and white pigment adorn most of the obverse face. Grandiose masks like this example were created as symbols of status and power used by the king and other members of high society. Dancers would dance this mask during funerary ceremonies of important individuals as well as at the end of harvest celebrations. Size: 11" W x 25.25" H (27.9 cm x 64.1 cm).
For a stylistically-similar example, please see The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, object number 2005-6-5: https://africa.si.edu/collections/view/objects/asitem/People@1498/9/title-desc?t:state:flow=2e8f4fbf-41c8-4171-98f4-e8ab239f3f8c
Provenance: Mark Clayton collection, Long Beach, California, USA; Mr. Clayton is a noted African expert and collector who recently had Nigerian bronze objects from his collection featured in an exhibition at the UCLA Fowler Museum entitled "Summoning the Ancestors" (September 2018 - March 2019).
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Minor chips and abrasions to neck base, mouth, face, and coiffure, with fading to original pigmentation, several stable hairline fissures, and wear to some raised areas. Light earthen deposits and fine patina throughout.