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Re: [African_Arts] Tikar mask?

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  • Lee Rubinstein
    A few other other applicable terms and references regarding masks with the puffed cheeks can be found in Louis Perrois and Jean-Paul Notué s Rois et
    Message 1 of 3 , Apr 3 8:17 AM
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      A few other other applicable terms and references regarding masks with the puffed cheeks can be found in Louis Perrois and Jean-Paul Notué's Rois  et sculpteurs de l'Ouest Cameroun:  la panthère et la mygale -- a  katsho from Bagam (figure 133 on page 264) and three funeral masks, "katcho'" and  "maseng" from Bafandji (figures 149, 150 and 151 on p. 286).  Perrois and Notué suggest that the imagery of the cheeks is associated with fecundity and in these latter instances represents two of the nine founders of the chefferie.

      This book, incidentally, is another excellent resource for the study of the material culture of the region.


      On Apr 1, 2010, at 9:13 AM, Lee Rubinstein wrote:


      In the absence of recorded collection histories it is especially difficult to offer specific attribution for masks (and other works) from -- or suggesting origin in -- the Cameroon Grasslands (or Grassfields).  Given the extremely complex interaction and development of the many socieites and sub-communities in the region, it is generally possible only to identify and hypothesize the source of influence of observable elements and to theorize but not to conclude a specific attribution.  That being said, the Tikar attribution strikes me as possibly erroneous --  or at least overly specific without verification;  more productive, it would seem, would be an exploration of Bamileke mask styles with an open eye to the west among Bangwa neighbors as well where the puff-cheeked mask form can also be observed although with generally different stylization.  Although Robert Brain and Adam Pollock speak, for instance, of the Bamileke-ization of the Bangwa (to cite one instance of the complex interaction among and within regional groups and sub-groups), they also note that even the Bangwa consist of nine historically and politically "distinct" (if such a description can ever be fully suggested without various qualifications) political entities, or chiefdoms, which have been subjected both to Bamileke influence and even "convenient" re-classification as Bamileke (or western Bamileke) during the German colonial period in the area.  Even within this narrower cultural geography, no general conclusions or stylistic attributions can be established.  This is but one example of the complex interplay of regional styles and the difficulty in attributing specific , "free-floating" objects to specific traditions or inferring specific meanings therefrom...  

      I recommend surveying masks -- and figures -- exhibiting the puff-cheeked facial structure from the Grasslands regions where they appear -- in collections and published sources.  Below are some examples gleaned simply from a quick perusal of the quai Branly database and a link or two to suggest additional sources.  Published works by Geary, Gebauer, Harter and Northern which are included in the bibliography of Nicholas Argenti's article, "African Aesthetics:  Moving to See the Mask" may offer some good resources with which to begin;  the article -- which focuses on Grassfields traditions within a theoretical framework (Section 2 is theoretically dense) -- may also be of general  interest to group members for its consideration of aesthetic and symbolic analysis as well as its treatment of carving innovations (a topic touched upon in the on-going discussion of the gonde).


      Some images from museé du quai Branly database:
      Cliquez sur l'image pour la visualiser en plein écran


      Cliquez sur l'image pour ouvrir la noticeCliquez sur l'image pour ouvrir la notice
      Cliquez sur l'image pour ouvrir la noticeCliquez sur l'image pour ouvrir la notice


      On Mar 16, 2010, at 8:11 PM, pollyanna2424 wrote:


      I'm new to the group. I was wondering if anyone would be able to tell me the origin of a mask I recently purchased. I was told that it is from the Tikar tribe; however, noted that the large cheeks can be seen in the work of the Bamileke tribe. I'm fairly certain it was purchased in Cameroon. I've been unable to locate a similar looking mask on the internet. Any information would be sincerely appreciated. 

      I'm not concerned with value or authenticity, as the beauty of the piece transcends its monetary value. In fact, I often wonder if "authentic" pieces were taken or ill-gotten - much like the 'dead pawns' for Native American pieces. I would rather have a reproduction, then own a family heirloom that was stolen or sold due to hardship. Reproductions support the African artists and encourage them to keep the art traditions alive. I'd be interested to read the views of others on this subject.

      The Tikar mask can be seen in the public album:
      http://groups. yahoo.com/ group/African_ Arts/photos/ album/195705073/ pic/383913225/ view


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