African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Mambila Statue
Mambila Tadep Statue (N° 20700)
Made according to recurring canons, these statues supposedly embodying the ancestors often have small studs on their heads as a headdress, like this slightly off-center sculpture. It depicts a corpulent figure, whose head is encased in broad rounded shoulders.
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The hands meet under the face which seems to be extended by a beard, while the hallucinated look could suggest trance.
The massive crenellated legs reproduce the angular volume of the abdomen.
Crusty ochre matte patina, locally scaled. Cracks.
Despite their small numbers, the thirty thousand Mambila (or Mambilla, Mambere, Nor, Torbi, Lagubi, Tagbo, Tongbo, Bang, Ble, Juli, Bea)(the "men," in Fulani), settled in northwestern Cameroon, created a large number of masks and statues easily identifiable by their heart-shaped faces. Although the Mambila believe in a creator god named Chang or Nama, they worship only their ancestors. Their chiefs were buried in granaries like wheat because they were thought to symbolize prosperity. Masks and statues were not to be seen by women.
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