Mask (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

19th-20th century
Overall: 24 × 15 7/8 × 13 1/4 in. (60.96 × 40.32 × 33.66 cm)
In the kingdoms of Cameroon’s Grassfields region, governance is shared between a king—the fon—and a men’s society—the kwifoyn—that upholds social mores and enforces laws. Majestic wooden masks such as this example and the adjacent buffalo mask are owned by the kwifoyn, whose members come from families of high standing. The spiders represented at the top of this mask symbolize wisdom, a valued trait of leadership. The human image is a symbol of ancestry. Kwifoyn masks are danced for various occasions, including celebrations praising the king, giving thanks for the harvest, or commemorating the dead.
From the Robert and Nancy Nooter Collection, Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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