In Cameroon's Grasslands kingdoms, headdresses such as this, as well as masks and prestige objects, display images of wilderness animals, expressing the power and supernatural basis of elite authority. This headdress, symbolizing the Kom royal family suggests the head of an ape, a creature combining wilderness and human-like qualities. At the top are three chameleons representing spiritual forces of transformation. Such headdresses belong to a secret regulatory association responsible for supporting and enforcing royal authority. They were worn by an agile, rapidly moving masked dancer, an awe-inspiring embodiment of the supernatural forces empowering Kom leadership.


  • Title: Masquerade Headdress
  • Date Created: 20th century
  • Physical Dimensions: w292.1 x h346.2 x d177.8 in
  • Type: Mask
  • Rights: Gift of Drs. D. J.and L. W. Welling, Gift of Drs. D. J.and L. W. Welling
  • Medium: Wood
  • Culture: Kom Kingdom

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