Head crest in the form of a bird

20th century
Artist Unidentified

Object Place: Cameroon


38.1 x 84.45 cm (15 x 33 1/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art



In the northern part of the Cameroon Grassfields, local rulers and heads of important families possess large ensembles of up to twenty masked figures, which recreate in visual form a universe populated by humans and animals. Their stunning performances during memorial ceremonies enhance the owners’ prestige and add to the splendor of the occasion. Most mask ensembles have bird head crests, such as this one, which may represent a hornbill, frequently depicted in African art


1978, acquired in Cameroon by Charles Davis, the Gallery of Primitive Man, New Orleans; March, 1978, sold by the Gallery of Primitive Man to William and Bertha Teel, Marblehead, MA; 1994, partial gift of William and Bertha Teel to the MFA; 2014, acquired fully with the bequest of William Teel to the MFA. (Accession Dates: January 26, 1994 and February 26, 2014)

Credit Line

Gift of William E. and Bertha L. Teel