Couple of commemorative statues, Bamileke... - Lot 50 - Binoche et Giquello

Lot 50
Got to lot
Estimation :
80000 - 120000 EUR
Result with fees
Result : 136 500EUR
Couple of commemorative statues, Bamileke... - Lot 50 - Binoche et Giquello
Couple of commemorative statues, Bamileke people, Cameroon
First half of the 20th century
H. 94 and 97 cm
Bamileke couple of commemorative statues, Cameroon
H. 38 ¼ in and 37 in
Publication :
- Raymond Lecoq, Les Bamiléké, 1953, Editions Africaines, cover & PP. 126-127 n°96-97
The male figure is overall smaller than the female figure. Both are represented seated. The woman's shoulders are wider than the man's. The man's nose is smaller, thinner and more pointed than the woman's, which is more pronounced and has larger wings. The eyes, which are wide open and surrounded by distinct lids, and the circular mouths are very similar, as are the shape of the ears, although those of the male are proportionately somewhat smaller. The male wears a knobbed cap to indicate his status as chief. The aesthetic placement of the neck at the junction of the shoulders and the way it tapers to a point at the front is remarkable.
A crack in the wood runs along the neck of the male figure. On both objects, the shoulders, which are broad in relation to the narrow torsos, are particularly harmonious. A figure carrying a Tikar/Majung kota nut bowl about 56 cm high and 30 cm wide in the Portland Art Museum (70. 10.33)1 shows many similarities to these two Bamileke figures in the configuration of the shoulders, upper body and neck. The existence of influences from other "style zones" on Bamileke art is widely known. Women's hairstyles seem to have been influenced by Bamum hairstyles and dance headdresses. This influence can also be seen in the masks of the Eastern Bangwa.2 Two memorial figures from Batufam, in the southwestern part of the Bamileke region, also had grooved and furrowed headdresses, as shown in an in situ photograph.3
Engraved designs adorn the upper arms and upper chest of the female figure. Examples of tattoos on the upper body of women in the Bamileke zone are known from field photographs (see Egerton, 1938, page 247, #83 and #84 "women with scarred backs"; page 106, #31 and #32, "scarred mothers with a child", and Lecoq, 1953/1998, "Au marché. Note the scarifications", #23). Women have emblems of their social status engraved on their skin, sometimes as indicators of their family status or the number of children they have, or simply as decoration, and sometimes as small scars from cuts made by healers. The highly structured patterns on the upper body of this female figure with child are nevertheless a rarity. Were they added by an artisan other than the original carver? These circular and oval shapes are indications of rank more often seen on insignia of notables, chiefs or high-ranking Grassland women. For example, they are often incised in relief on drinking horns. There are also quite old figures of chiefs from the Bamileke region that have motifs engraved on the upper body and/or the upper arm (examples: Statue of Fon, Bal'owen in Banka, 116 cm, in the Landesmuseum Hannover [IV 55.541], according to Harter, 1986, page 259, #292; Statue of an ancestor. Batié, 115 cm, 19th century, the ancestor figure of a chief has relief motifs on the upper arms and chest, including the toad symbol; illustrated in Lecoq 1953/1998, page 135, #105).
The arms of both figures are long and very thin. Individual phalanges are rendered on their short, powerful hands. This could be the mark of a particular sculptor. This is also the case with the distinctive, elongated feet of both figures.4 Queen Bangwa and her "partner," a chiefly figure in a high pommel hat, have paw-like feet in comparison. The Bangwa Queen and her "partner," a chiefly figure in a high buttoned hat, have paw-like feet. It is assumed that these are representations of leopard skin strips and allude to the supernatural powers he acquires during the rites of passage associated with his enthronement. It is believed that through his connection to an animal "alter ego", such as a leopard in the wild, which possesses certain specific attributes, the chief acquires these supernatural powers that help him in real life and give him sacred and superhuman protective abilities. This is both a metaphor and a concrete belief in that it is considered possible for Grasslands chiefs to transform themselves into animals, such as pythons, elephants or leopards.
The male Bamileke figure shown here holds a skull in one hand and a calabash in the other.
The breasts of the female figure
My orders
Sale information
Sales conditions
Return to catalogue