MSSU African Art Exibit : The MSSU African Art collection features a variety of authentic works of art from various tribes located throughout Central Africa. The objects in the collection range from mundane day to day grooming tools to ritualistic masks and statues.
Bamileke Style, Female Dance Mask
Object Name:
Mask, Ritual, Bamileke
Other Name:
Mask, Dance, Female
Place of Origin:
Bamileke Peoples, Cameroon, Africa
Aboriginal Indigenous Art.
H = 21"
W = 17"
D = 6"

In Bamileke (Mbalekeo, Mileke) territories, the fon entrusted the guardianship of the sculptures to certain members, for to spread around portions of the treasury was an insurance against the frequent fires. Masks that elicit fear and apprehension are the work of societies responsible for repression. In spite of the ethnic and stylistic variations found in the Grassland area, similar types of mask have been produced. All young boys belong to associations based on age classes, covering periods of five years each, focusing on military and technical apprenticeship. The various societies also had their masks; some of them, according the tradition, had been created and consecrated by the ancestors themselves, others inspired great fear, there were masks decorated with beads, copper, and cowrie shells. Most of the kingdoms used the buffalo, stag, elephant, birds masks, and masks presenting male and female human heads. They are usually worn during state ceremonies such as the funeral of an important dignitary, or during annual festivities. During these ceremonies, the leading dancer wears a níkang mask which bears a false beard, a coiffure split in two symmetrical parts and is often covered in royal paraphernalia such as cowrie shells and beads. The níkang mask is followed by other masks representing a woman, a man or an animal. The buffalo and elephant masks represented strength and power, and the spider mask, intelligence, but most of the meanings are now lost.
Oval—shaped face with large elliptical—shaped eyes with large circuler pupils. Large slightly protruding crescent—shaped eyebrows. Wedge—shaped nose with circular flared nostrils. Crescent—shaped slightly open mouth with upper and lower front teeth. Large round concave ears, with arrowhead—shaped centers. Two sections of cloth or possibly animal / human hair attached to upper and lower halves of mask, with cowrie shells attached to top and bottom outer ring of both sections. Dark brown patina over entire facial area. Light tan pigment in eyes, mouth, ears and around nose area.
Guy Mace Collection, (Turblex Company)
Wood W/Pigment, Patina, Shells, and Cloth or Hair
Ritually Used
Carving / Weaving / Painting
Art Department, Missouri Southern State University
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Front ViewFront View
Front View - 2Front View - 2
Right Side ViewRight Side View
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Left Side ViewLeft Side View
Left Side View - 2Left Side View - 2
Rear ViewRear View