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Acquisition by DIA

by Entwistle on 3 May 2016

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) has acquired a major beaded Bakom monkey helmet mask from Entwistle...

This remarkable beaded monkey mask, mabuh, from the Bakom peoples of the Grassland Region of northwest Cameroon, is a work of remarkable zoomorphic form whose features are ingeniously emphasized by paring down the stylized treatment of the ocular and nasal elements that constitute the simian character while the head of the mask is ornamented with three additional zoomorphic figures to form a type of tableau vivant.

The mask, made of wood, glass beads, cowrie shells and canvas, was worn during enthronement ceremonies and served as a witness to historical events as part of the group of prestige articles belonging to the king, or foyn.


This important mask was documented in a field photograph taken by Hans-Joachim Koloss in 1976 and was acquired by a private collector from the celebrated Franco-Belgian dealer Philippe Guimiot.


In the late 1970's and 1980's, the Department of Africa, Oceania and the Indigenous Americas at DIA was under the direction of Dr Michael Kan and was a mecca for African art collectors. Under the stewardship of Dr Nii Quarcoopome, we are delighted to see the re-emergence of African art in DIA's interests.

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