Liminality / Mourning

By Monica Demott
(formerly University of Iowa)

CameroonBabanki peoples

Mask

Wood

H. 50.8 cm (20")

Detroit Institute of Arts, Bequest of W. Hawkins Ferry, 1988.191

For nearby Bamum peoples, "head attire, an important part of prestige clothing in the whole western and central African area and essential symbol of the bearer's rank, occurs in an unsuspected profusion of forms" (Geary 1983: 102).  This Babanki mask has a particularly complex headgear that includes four smaller heads.  It was, like the previous examples, worn at the “cry-die” summing up the life-long achievements of the deceased.