of southwestern Cameroon are divided into many small kingdoms which share political structures. The ruler is at the top of the hierarchy of royals, subchiefs and noblemen. Figurative sculpture from the region represents kings, queens, and other important members of the community. To enhance prestige and to demonstrate their ancestral right to rule, kings displayed their carved portraits at major ceremonies.

Masks appear in many masquerades in the Cameroon Grasslands. Beadwork masks belong to rulers of the Kom people and were worn at palace celebrations. The zoomorphic mask, with its attachments of bones and powerful medicines, personifies an uncivilized being that comes to the village from the bush. This mask was used in ceremonies to combat witchcraft.

In the Cameroon Grasslands, expertise in pottery-making has been handed down through generations. Ornamented pots were used to serve the wine of the raffia palm at royal courts and at meetings of men's associations. Once only chiefs, men of high rank, and members of men's societies had the right to use the elaborate ceramic serving dishes produced in the region.

Royal Memorial Figure: Lefem
19th-20th century
Bangwa peoples, Cameroon
Bequest of Victor K. Kiam, 77.172 (cat. 60)

Lidded Pot
Bamessi chiefdom, Grassland region, Cameroon
Museum purchase: Robert P. Gordy Fund, 2000.21 (cat. 64)

Palm Wine Pot: Kume Ndu
Bamessi chiefdom, Grassland region, Cameroon
Gift of Kent and Charles Davis in honor of the marriage of their daughter Inglish to Jay Matthew DeVoss, 2000.39 (cat. 63)

Crested Helmet Mask
Kom or neighboring peoples, Cameroon
Wood, cloth, beads
Bequest of Carmen Donaldson, 99.109.34 (cat. 61)

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