Lot: 282

99th Auction

Two power figures "mu' po"

Cameroon Grassfields, Bamileke

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
Lt. Col. Richard Hopp (born 1880), Kaiserslautern / Germersheim, Germany
Lempertz, Brussels, 2 September 2021, Lot 73

On August 12, 1914, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hopp was drafted into the Imperial Protection Forces for Cameroon. He was stationed in Duala, where he was taken prisoner by the French at the end of September 1914.

Historical background: The German colony of Cameroon became the scene of hostilities shortly after the start of World War I in August 1914. Until the beginning of 1916, the German "Schutztruppe“ carried out defensive battles against the advance of British, French and Belgian units on the territory of the colony. German resistance was crushed, and the remnants of the German armed forces and civil administration eventually took refuge in adjacent neutral Spanish Equatorial Guinea. Cameroon was divided between France and Great Britain.
H: 6.1 inch (both) This object is not available anymore.

wood, pigments,

"Mu'po" statuettes were used by the Bamun and Bamileke peoples of the Cameroon grassfields for divination and healing purposes.

Their role was varied: they were held by mask dancers of the "ku'n'gan" society during ritual dances, used as hunting charms, attached to the belts of warriors to confuse the enemy, placed in the fields to protect the harvest, or worn by pregnant women to ensure successful birth...

According to Harter, the position of the hands may vary from one statue to another, each gesture symbolizing a special topic. When the hands reach up to the collarbones, they evoke evil.

Harter, Pierre, Arts anciens du Cameroun, Arnouville 1986, p. 269