Status palm butter container
Bamileke or Banso people, Cameroon Grasslands
19th to very early 20th Century
This superb palm butter container comes from the Bamileke or Banso people of the Western Grassfields.
According to Bettina von Lintig (Von Lintig & Dubois, "African Impressions. Tribal Art and Currents of Life/Empreintes d'Afrique. L'art tribal au fil des fleuves", ed. by Didier Claes, Milan: 5 Continents, 2011) about a similar object "The container rests on an openwork pedestal. Its exterior surface is decorated with relief carvings. The frog icon is depicted (on the flanks). The frog symbolizes fertility and is considered a good omen in Grassland societies. The carved handle is executed in the same manner as is on terracotta containers known from Grasslands chiefdoms (see field photo illustrating the palm oil gourd in our selection).
An abstractly rendered quadruped stands on the lid, [an iconic representation of a leopard or a lizard - as is the case here]. The [animal] may be seen as a zoomorphic equivalent of kingship. In the past, only chiefs, high ranking men, or men's societies had the right to use such elaborate container at gatherings."
This is a very rare container as we were able to identify only 6 more (last image, from left to right): One at the Ethnographic Museum of Berlin, collected by Ankermann before 1910, the one commented by Lintig ex Langlois and Ratton Hourdé, one from a private collection and exposed at "A Cameroon world" at the City University of New York in 2007, one published in Bastin "Introduction aux arts d'afrique noire", 1984 #241, one ex Pierre Loeb and one from a private collection.
This superb work comes from an old French colonial estate. It is in very good condition and the patina is ranging from black to reddish brown and has an oily sheen. I date it to the end of the 19th or very early 20th Century.
H: 47 cm (18 1/2 inches)
Price : 3800 Euros enquiry