According to Stelzig (in Wick and Denner 2009: VIII): "The Mumuye live in a mountainous region in northeastern Nigeria, south of the Benue River. Today, they number approximately half a million people, comprising, as far as one knows, several different populations. The groups now subsumed under the ethnic denomination Mumuye retreated to the Shebshi Mouthains at the beginning of the 19th century under the growing pressure of invading groups such as the Chamba, Jukun, and Fulani. In the course of British and French Colonial intrusion and the conquest of the region at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, the Mumuye, located in the border area of Nigeria and Cameroon, gained the reputation of being tough and reclusive adversaries ready to fight for their lands.
"[...] these unique works, which are so admired today, did not reach Western museum and the international art market until the end of the 1960s, with the exception of two sculptures acquired by the British Museum in 1922. As regards function, we only know that the figures were stored in special houses and were used by diviners, healers, judges, blacksmiths, and rainmakers in ceremonial contexts. Some of them also served as family guardian statues and as status symbols for powerful men."
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