Lot 172
  • 172

Mambila Figure, Cameroon

30,000 - 50,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • wood
  • Height: 17 1/2 in (44.5 cm)


Paul Gebauer, collected in situ in the 1940s
Bernd Muhlack, Kiel, acquired from the above
Pierre Dartevelle, Brussels
Pace Primitive, New York, acquired from the above in 2006
Martin and Roberta Lerner, New York, acquired from the above in January, 2009

Catalogue Note

According to Kerchache (1990: 144), Mambila "religious life centres around ancestor worship. Every village has an ancestor hut that is entrusted to the care of the elder. It is built of stilts and has an image called 'Baltu' displayed on its front wall which shows a man and a woman holding a net which is used for catching birds or fish. The ancestor figures of the Mambila are kept in such nets. These figures are carved out of very soft wood and painted with red, white and black pigments. They are called tadep or tadep dia (figures that measure 30 cm or more)."

The present tadep has been rendered with a particularly animated expression, the figure’s eyes depicted as two short tubular forms protruding from large round sockets and the mouth agape. The boxy shoulders and arms and the corpulent torso lend the figure a weighty presence, while the bent legs imbue the sculpture with a spring-like energy.