Art and Centralized Power

By Mary Nooter Roberts
University of California, Los Angeles

Cameroon; Kom artist

Royal figure

Wood, beads, fiber, iron, cloth

H. 91.4 cm (36")

Indiana University Art Museum, 68.190

While some royal sculptures serve to remember the original culture heroes, others commemorate particular kings and their achievements. This figure bearing a bowl was one of several figures displayed during royal celebrations in the Kingdom of Kom, in the Cameroon Grasslands, to commemorate deceased members of the royal family. Like most leadership art, it incorporates costly materials reserved for the use of the ruler, in this case fine blue beads obtained in trade with Europeans.

Enthronment of Jinabo II, the late King of Kom, Northwest Province of Cameroon. Photo by Hans-Joachim Koloss.