A rare royal Bamileke / Bamun wooden bed from Cameroon. The art of the people in Cameroon´s Grassland is closely associated with royal ceremonies. Thrones and beds are used by the king (fon) to claim his power. All royal art objects were symbols of the position in the hierarchy. In the past, the fon was believed to be provided with supernatural powers that allowed him to transform into an animal – an elephant, leopard, or buffalo. The elephant represents strength and power. And so the elephant heads on our bed represent the power of the king and at the same time they also carry the king – his real weight and his spiritual weight. The four bedposts are curved, like elephant tusks. The heads on the upper side of the bed and at the head part of the elephant friezes remind of masks and can be meant apotropically.
Although sculpted beds can be found in almost all Ngemba-speaking chieftaincies, particularly on the Bamiléké plateau and at Ndop, it is very rare to find them in Western collections, and moreover complete, as here.
According to Harter (1986, 63-64), in the kingdoms of the Grassland of Cameroon, ceremonial beds were used exclusively by the king (fon), chief (fonte) or queen (mafo) to sleep, “but also for the secret exhibition or restricted council of the deceased king, before his burial”. They were part of the royal treasure.
Perrois, Notué (1997, 275, no. 52) for the photograph of Awing’s fon, depicted “with part of his treasure”, showing a royal bed behind him.
Lit.: Pierre Harter, Arts anciens du Cameroun, 1986, 63-64. Louis Perrois, Jean-Paul Notué, Rois et sculpteurs de l’Ouest Cameroun. La panthère et la mygale, 1997, 275, no. 52.
1.200 – 1.600,- Euro
Length / Height / Width: 182 cm / 32 cm / 49 cm
Weight: 25,4 kg