Royal Pipe Stem

Bamum/Fumban peoples, Cameroon


Gift of Georgine and Hilton Hill for Jay and Russell Butler

3.75 x 42.25 x 3.75 in

Among the richest forms of regalia to be found in Bamum kings’ treasuries are tobacco pipes. In their combinations of materials and motifs, artists endowed the pipe sculptures with a vast repertoire of historical, religious and cultural information. Although this pipe is missing its bowl, the cast-brass stem is a tour-de-force of iconographic coding, including a number of mask faces around the base surmounted by dozens of frogs and probably lizards, as well as geometric motifs such as spirals and undulating wave patterns. The animal, human and non-figurative motifs are probably
references to fertility and long life.

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