X80.809 Crest mask

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Not Currently On View in Intersections 


Crest mask, bird
Kom or Oku peoples
Western Grassfields, Cameroon
19th-20th century
Wood, kaolin, wire, vegetable fiber
H: 19.3 cm, W: 23.0 cm, D: 56.0 cm (H: 7.6 in, W: 9.1 in, D: 22.0 in)
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Melvin Silverman. X80.809


Kingdoms of the Cameroon Grassfields have exercised social control through regulatory societies ever since the precolonial period. Among the most important of these is the Kwifoyn society. Ranked lineages, all of which owned and performed with masks, have also had their own regulatory societies. Members use a variety of zoomorphic masks to convey authority and to symbolize their powerful positions in performances. These masks take the form of animals such as a buffalo, a hybrid bovine-human, and an elephant, which are typically associated with royalty. The bird mask was worn with a dramatic feather robe and sat atop the head of the wearer, whose face was concealed by a fiber covering.

Gallery text, Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives, 2006