Bowl of a Royal Pipe
early 20th–late 20th century
12 x 4 x 16 cm (4 13/16 x 1 11/16 x 6 1/8 in.)
Medium or Technique
Cire perdue casted bronze
Richard B. Carter Gallery (Gallery 171)
Artists in the Bamum and Bagam kingdoms of the Cameroon Grassfields created stunning objects using the lost-wax casting technique. Among them is this tobacco-pipe bowl in the form of an elephant's head, which boldly captures the animal's characteristic features. Two sets of enormous tusks allude to the importance of ivory. In the symbolic universe of the Grassfields peoples, kings and elephants are closely associated, as both display power and strength. Thus, pipes such as this one were prestige objects reserved for royalty. The generous gift of this fine work supports the Museum's commitment to expanding its representation of African visual arts.