African art > Bronze, leopard, messenger, warrior, statue, pirogues > Mambila bronze
Mambila bronze (N° 20073)
This bronze sculpture, placed here on a metal ring, evokes the monoliths, architectural stone constructions, of the Cameroonian Grasslands region. These commemorative stelae were made primarily for religious and funerary purposes. It is also reminiscent, in its design and decorative motifs related to tribal ritual markings, of the funerary stones atals of the Bakor, and Ekoi, of the neighboring Grasslands regions around the Cross River in Nigeria. The bronze depicts a figure, ancestor or mythical hero, wearing a notable headdress. The representation of the protruding umbilicus insists on the filiation.
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 the northwest of Cameroon, have produced 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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