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Object Name: Male and female figures
Culture: Bamileke peoples
Place of Origin: Bangwa, Cameroon
Date/Era: Late 19th to early 20th century
Dimensions: H (male): 97 cm; H (female): 87 cm
Medium/Materials: Male: wood; female: wood, hair
Credit Line: Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of Helen and Dr. Robert Kuhn.
Accession Number: X92.29ab
Cameroon art is known for its bold expressive qualities. The bared teeth, swollen stomachs, and asymmetrical gestures of this paired male and female indicate that they were probably intended to serve as a defense against sorcery and to warn of the consequences of antisocial behavior. Their power was activated by medicinal substances intended to reveal the presence of wrongdoing against individuals and against the palace in particular. For the guilty who would not confess, the figures were a harsh reminder of the diseases that might consume them.
Source: Marla C. Berns, World Arts, Local Lives: The Collections of the Fowler Museum at UCLA. Fowler Museum, Los Angeles, 2014