857 x 1150 Life in the Cameroon Grasslands, Page 12 - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art

Life in the Cameroon Grasslands

by Hans-Joachim Koloss (1938 - 2013)
Formerly Museum für Völkerkunde

A dance of a mask society during a death ceremony in Mboh Oku, Northwest Province of Cameroon. Photo by Hans-Joachim Koloss.


The dances of the mask societies take place in the compound of the family head who commissions such a ceremony. In the middle of the yard the musical instruments are played, xylophones, drums, slit drums, etc. The masks dance around them, and then there are hundreds and thousands of onlookers. The mask in the foreground of the photograph is a “running” juju in the form of a monkey and with two sticks in its hands. “Running” jujus represent the whole mask society during burials and also have other functions. The other mask is an elephant, the last leader mask of the group. The dancers look through a net, which covers the face, while the headpieces are worn like a cap or hat.