The grassland region, in southwest Cameroon
is divided into hundreds small independent kingdoms and chiefdoms, headed by fons.
The fon (more a king than a chief) in each chiefdom has reached the pick of the
hierarchy of all brotherhoods and with the magical power ascribed to him he is supposed to
transform himself into a panther, a buffalo, a python or an elephant. His power is also
based on military strength, which enables him on occasion to annex a weaker neighboring
chiefdom and to gain payment of a tribute, which will help to maintain the wealth of the
court. The art of Cameroon is the art of a royal court that had a complex protocol and
numerous rituals. The fon and his court is a focal point, it exerts powerful
influence upon the development of the plastic art. Their art tends towards dramatization,
power and sumptuous luxury. The stuff is a symbol of power of the fon. Themes of ritual authority are closely
identified with the genre of figures composing the stuff. The stuff was an indispensable
attribute of fons during various ceremonies and receptions. Specific meaning of
each image is not clear.
Size: H.42½, W. 1½, 4