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Bruce Frank Primitive Art
New York City, NY
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Small Shrine Figure

Bamileke, Cameroon
Early 20th c.

Provenance: Didier Claes, Belgium. Private New York collection

This small, but visually powerful figure was most likely a repository of offerings made to a bush spirit.  Indications for this use can been found in the manner in which its hands and feet are carved, both take the form of animal claws. At the figures back a deep square opening has been hollowed out; this is where organic substances would have been packed inside to magically empower it.  The fetish would have been placed on a shrine, evident from the darker and thicker ritual encrustation found on its front side.  Around its waist the pigmentation is lighter, indicating where a fiber cord was most likely wrapped around it.

Small Shrine Figure

Bamileke, Cameroon
Early 20th c.

Provenance: Didier Claes, Belgium. Private New York collection

This small, but visually powerful figure was most likely a repository of offerings made to a bush spirit.  Indications for this use can been found in the manner in which its hands and feet are carved, both take the form of animal claws. At the figures back a deep square opening has been hollowed out; this is where organic substances would have been packed inside to magically empower it.  The fetish would have been placed on a shrine, evident from the darker and thicker ritual encrustation found on its front side.  Around its waist the pigmentation is lighter, indicating where a fiber cord was most likely wrapped around it.

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