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Post Lot Text
This mask is almost certainly by the same hand as another in the Museum für Völkerkunde, Leipzig, Germany (inv.no. Maf 11622), formerly in the Willhöft collection and collected before 1905; see Homberger (ed.) Cameroon: Art and Kings, Museum Rietberg, Zurich, 2008, p. 183, cat. no.73. The offered examples has a highly developed surface, as particularly noted among the Bangwa and in the Grassfields regions, from spending many years in the smoky rafters in Cameroon.
As noted by Seige about the Leipzig mask (op. cit.), "janus motifs are found quite frequently in the art of the Cameroon Grassfields. They stand for continuity, immortality, universal knowledge and versatility of the owner". Janus-headed animal motifs also symbolize the increase of the animals' powers and characteristics. The heads of this double mask are only linked at the back and by the hair decoration. Both heads had their own ears... . The faces closely resemble each other: especially the heart-shaped basic form, the wide, concave eye sockets, the design of the nose and of the lozenge-shaped mouth with emphasized rows of teeth... .
Koloss notes (op. cit., p.103) that the overarching function of masks in the Grasslands is one of a supernatural kind. As opposed to representing an ancestor as seen in many masking traditions within Africa, and contrary to European traditions, which serve to protect no secrets, the Grassfields' masks are highly secretive and often serve to defend exclusive rights among important members of the society.
See also, Harter, Arts anciens du Cameroun, Arnouville, 1986, pp. 207, 304, 308 for related masks.