Bowl of a Royal Pipe

Bamum or Bagam
early 20th–late 20th century
Artist Unidentified

Object Place: Western Grasslands, Bamum or Bagam peoples, Cameroon


12 x 4 x 16 cm (4 13/16 x 1 11/16 x 6 1/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Cire perdue casted bronze

On View

Richard B. Carter Gallery (Gallery 171)


Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art


Decorative arts

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.


1958, sold by Mathias Komor (dealer), New York, to the father of the donor; 2000, year-end gift anonymous gift to the MFA. (Accession Date: January 24, 2001)

Credit Line

Anonymous gift