GRASSLANDS
Cameroon
This piece was in the exhibition "Grave Matters - The Art of Memory and Mourning" at the Loveland Art Museum in Colorado (photo above)
BABANKI STYLE ELEPHANT MASK, also known as BALI ELEPHANT MASK- WESTERN GRASSLANDS

Most of the wooden masks from the Cameroon Grasslands of this type belong to an ensemble of some twenty masks owned by royal lineages
and chiefs that are performed during funerals and annual festivals. These lineage masks include both anthropomorphic and zoomorphic types,
the latter representing such animals as buffaloes, apes, sheep and various species of birds. Elephant masks are only occasionally included in
this group, since the elephant, like the leopard, is considered a royal animal and the use of an elephant mask is therefore the special privilege
of certain lineages. Whenever an elephant masquerader is present, he assumes the second most important position after the human kam
masquerader. The elephant figure is the first to appear on the dance ground and the last to leave it, and in accordance with his status, his
movements are stately and slow. The elephant mask is worn horizontally on the head and can be classified in the well-known Babanki style of
the northwestern Grasslands.
Sources: A History of Art in Africa / Africa - The Art of a Continent / The Tribal Art of Africa
Click on any image to see larger version

Provenance: Ex M Barron collection
Previously M Forsyth collection

This mask and I have a little history, I have wanted it for years now and I am very glad to now have it in my collection. I think it's fantastic!

This object will be in the exhibition "
Collectors Collect - Works from Denver Private Collections" from October 9th 2006 to January 5th, 2007
The 3 photos below were taken at the opening reception for the exhibition.
A photo of an elephant mask being danced


Other examples for reference
Mask, Bamileke; Cameroon
Wood, remains of sacrificial material; H. 43 1/2"

Most elephant masks in the form of a wooden crest originate from the centers of Oku and the Babanki area. Masks of this
type belong to an ensemble of some twenty masks owned by royal lineages and chiefs that are performed during funerals
and annual festivals. The elephant appears last in these masquerade performances and assumes an exalted position as
protector from enemies and sorcery. Depiction of the elephant or use of its ivory or tail hairs refers to wealth and influence
but also makes allusion to an elephant's strength and destructive powers. The interplay of elongated lines and rounded arcs
adds both grace and power to this fantastic composition.

From the website for the book -
Remnants of Ritual - Selections from the Gelbard Collection of African art

http://www.remnantsofritual.com/gallery/058.html
From Sotheby's, May 1994
Property of a New Mexico Private Collection
Lot 140

A Cameroon Elephant Mask, with rounded head and exaggerated concave oval ears, supporting an elongated trunk
with two large nostril cavities, and a gaping mouth bearing distinctive teeth, with two horns emanating from each cheek
in a curved fashion overlapping the trunk, incised almond eyes; dark brown patina with traces of white, red and yellow
pigment. Length 40 3/4 in. (1.03 m.)
Cf. Ross, Doran, Elephant, The Animal and its Ivory in African Culture, 1992, p 254.

Estimate $4,000-$6,000
Sotheby's - New York
Property from Kennedy Family Homes
Auction Date : Feb 15, 2005


Lot 621 :  A WEST AFRICAN CARVED WOOD MASK OF AN ELEPHANT


Description
Condition Note: 1 tusk detached.

Dimensions
height 47 in. (119.4 cm.)


Estimate: $ 1,800 - $ 2,200  
Price Realized:$ 3,900