AN ELEPHANT MASK, CAMEROON
Elephants are often associated with political power in the highly stratified kingdoms of the Cameroon grasslands. Because imported beads were historically rare and costly, beadwork is also associated with high social rank, making this mask a potent symbol of power. The Bamileke masquerade is an assertive but controlled and dignified performance worthy of a royal court. The elite Kuosi masking society controls the right to own and wear elephant masks, and the society assists the fon, or king, as preserver and enforcer of the sociopolitical hierarchy.
Kuosi Society, Bamileke, Grassfields region, Cameroon