Royal pipe

01 June 2020

Only the Bamum sovereign of Cameroon had the privilege of owning such a large and elaborate metal pipe. This ceremonial emblem was one of the sumptuous gifts given to the German Captain Glauning for services rendered to Sovereign Njoya. Indeed, the officer recovered the head of Nsan’gu, father of the monarch, who had fallen under the influence of the Nso and was beheaded.

The realization of this exceptional regalia required the collaboration of master foundrymen working in the capital Fumban and equally talented potters.

This pipe consists of a terracotta bowl in the shape of a human head with swollen cheeks and surmounted by batrachians, a symbol of recurring fecundity in the Grassfields (or chameleons?), and a wooden pipe, on which are threaded four figures in the round bump cast with lost wax, and whose mouthpiece features a double snake head, symbol of royalty.

H. : 170 cm . Former Arthur Spyer (father and son). INV. 1018-8.
Photo: Studio Ferrazzini Bouchet. MUSEE BARBIER-MUELLER.

Find this object in an article by Claude Tardits published in 1993 in Tribal Art: Royal gift of Bamum: a pipe.