The mask hides as much as it reveals, “denies as much as it affirms”, as Claude Lévi-Strauss asserted. Very often the holder of a secret, the mask conceals that which only the initiated should know.
The mask’s power also lies in its capacity to incarnate spirits, a link between man and his ancestors, between the visible and the invisible world. It is inseparable from a mythical context which structures the mode of existence and thought of the majority of traditional societies.
Central to the life of a group or a community, the mask, an indispensable intercessor, is always active.
Cameroon, Bekom, 20th century, Wood, 34 x 28 x 26cm, 1537g, Bequest of Pierre Harter, 73.1992.0.12
This mask was worn like a helmet, on the crown. It portrays a local notable wearing a knitted hat with small circular tubes formed by the knotted ends of the threads. It was brought out to maintain public order.