Tunic from Elephant Mask Ensemble of a Kuosi Society Member (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

Educational
19th-20th century
Bamileke
fabric, monkey fur, glass beads, feathers, reeds, string, horse tail, ivory
Cameroon
Overall (assembled, approximately): 6 ft. (182.87 cm)
99.41.1
Part of an ensemble "Elephant Mask Ensemble of a Kuosi Society Member" (99.41.1-6)
Elephants are symbols of political power in the highly stratified kingdoms of the Cameroon grasslands. The animal’s might and intelligence are associated with the fon, or king. Beadwork, too, is a sign of wealth and high rank. Thus, this mask ensemble symbolizes great power. The right to wear elephant masks is reserved for the governing society of the Bamileke, known as the kuosi, which includes royal family members, court officials, wealthy title holders, and great warriors who support the fon. The masks are worn every two years during special society meetings or for other important ceremonies, such as funerals for a fon or kuosi member
Kathleen Boone Samuels Memorial Fund
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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