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Elephant Mask

Elephant Mask

early 1900s

Cotton, leather, beads

Overall: 139.7 x 50.8 x 19.1 cm (55 x 20 x 7 1/2 in.)

The Harold T. Clark Educational Extension Fund 1985.1082

Description

The name given to masks like this, mbap mteng, means "animal with huge ears." In the Cameroon grassfields the elephant signifies power, authority, prestige, and leadership. The colorful glass beads that decorate the mask’s surface were imported from Venice and Bohemia and signal wealth and prosperity. Such elephant masks were worn by members of an exclusive male secret society in ritual dances and funerary ceremonies.

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