By Victoria Rovine
University of Florida (formerly University of Iowa)

Cameroon; Bamum peoples


Wood, beads

H. 88.27 cm (34 3/4")

University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art, The Stanley Collection, X1986.401

The grassfields region of Cameroon has for centuries been divided into many independent kingdoms, each ruled by a powerful Fon, or king. The political and spiritual power of the Fon is vividly demonstrated by his many possessions, objects that set him apart from the rest of the population. The Fon alone is permitted to wear and use certain regalia marked by the richness of its materials and the complexity of its manufacture. Thrones and stools are traditionally among the most potent, and therefore the most restricted, symbols of royal authority. Thrones literally set the Fon above his subjects, who sit on stools or on the ground. In the field photo the Fon sits in front of his palace to receive court officials.

The late King of Oku and some of his notables in front of his palace, Northwest Province of Cameroon. Photo by Hans-Joachim Koloss.