African tribal art beaded Bamileke Statue. It stands approx. 28/5", 3.75" wide from foot to foot and the base is 6" X 5.25" X 1".
This beaded statue comes from the Bamileke or Bamun people of the Cameroon Grasslands. This is a rather complex and remote area both geographically and culturally. The majority of the peoples now inhabiting this region migrated south during the Fulani Wars" of the 17th century. The Grasslands is dominated today by three large cultures: the Bamun, Bamileke, and the Bamenda Tikar. Each village is led by a primary chief, or Fon. All people in the area are expected to pay allegiance to this leader. Each Fon is selected by his predecessor, based on the dominant lineage within that community. The Fon is served by a council of elders, who advise him on all important decisions and who also play an important role in the selection of the next Fon. Most chiefs serve for a lifetime, abdicating the throne only when near death. Complex societies also help to structure the community, and the Fon oversees these as well. Most large sculpture from this area is produced for the Fon, not only to honor him but for his personal use and display. These pieces can be unbelievably complex, taking an enormous amount of time, talent, and money to produce. There are some famous early pictures from Cameroon showing the Fon with his attendants and royal sculpture. The finest of these stunning sculptures are ornately decorated with colorful beads and cowries, each representative of the wealth and power of the Fon.