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    Artist Name:

    Bamileke Artist, Cameroon

    Nationality & Life Dates:



    Elephant Headdress


    19th century


    Glass beads, wood, cloth, raffia


    17 1/2 inches

    Credit Line:

    Purchase through funds provided by patrons of the Second Annual Collectors Evening, 2011

    Accession Number:


    On View - Wieland Pavilion, Lower Level, Gallery 102, African Collection
    During the nineteenth century, when this work was made, elephant masks were among the most prestigious of all the masquerades performed by groups of wealthy, titled men in the small Bamileke kingdoms of the Cameroon Grassfields. The elephant, like the leopard, was a royal symbol, though both animals have long since become extinct in Cameroon. They were also considered the alter egos of Bamileke kings, who were described as having the ability to transform into either creature at will. Elephant masks were referred to as “things of money” because they were profusely ornamented with glass beads made in Venice or Czechoslovakia.

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    Please Note: Not all permanent collection works are currently on view. Please contact the Museum concerning the on view status for a specific work if required.