Trophy calabash

African, Bamum peoples, Cameroon
19th century, 1850–1900
Artist Unidentified

Object Place: Cameroon


Overall: 42.5 x 27 cm (16 3/4 x 10 5/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Gourd, cloth, human jaw bones with teeth, vines or plant fiber

Not On View


Africa and Oceania



The Bamum kings regularly conducted wars and military campaigns during the dry season. This constant expansion increased the wealth and influence of the kingdom. This calabash, a gourd adorned with the jaws of slain enemies, would have been paraded in celebration of the victorious return of the conquering heroes.


on neck in black marker: "BM10"; on neck in black marker: "F2"


1982, sold by Galerie Majestic, Paris, to Geneviève McMillan (b. 1922 - d. 2008), Cambridge, MA; 2008, to the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation, Cambridge; 2009, gift of the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 17, 2009)

Credit Line

Gift of Geneviève McMillan in memory of Reba Stewart