Women and Political Power

By Mary Nooter Roberts
University of California, Los Angeles

Cameroon; Bamileke peoples

Figure

Wood

H. 59.1 cm (23 ¼”)

Detroit Institute of Arts, Founders Society Purchase, Eleanor Clay Ford Fund for African Art, 79.22

The mother of the king's first child also was frequently elected as the administrative head of domestic affairs at the royal palace, in charge of delegating responsibility among all the king's other wives and relatives. The figures, therefore, depicted not only royal wives but women of significant political influence. This image of a royal wife from the Bamileke people of Cameroon shows the woman nursing the infant who will be the king's heir and guarantee the continuity of his lineage.