Headcrest in the form of a simian

mid 20th century
Artist Unidentified

Object Place: Cameroon


31.75 cm (12 1/2 in.) h x 10 in. w x 8 in. d

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


Africa and Oceania



The expressionist and aggressive qualities of Cameroon sculpture are well represented by the forms of this mask. It was made for use by the kweifo society of men, a regulatory society that maintains justice and appears at funerals of its prominent members. The crest represents a simian, most like a baboon. Dressed in a tunic covered with feathers and whistling like a bird this masker is Mabu, a creature from the bush that heralds the imminent arrival of Nko’, a masker that spreads fear and terror. Such masks are common in the Fumgom region of the Cameroon Grassfields and can be found in many of its smallchiefdoms, among them Aghem (also known as Wum), Weh, and Isu.


March, 1984, acquired in Cameroon by Charles Davis, Davis Gallery, New Orleans; April 18, 1984, sold by Davis Gallery to William and Bertha Teel, Marblehead, MA; 1992, partial gift of William and Bertha Teel to the MFA; 2014, acquired fully with the bequest of William Teel to the MFA. (Accession Dates: June 30, 1992 and February 26, 2014)

Credit Line

Gift of William E. and Bertha L. Teel