The Bafo and Bakundu of the forest areas of southern Cameroon produce miniature ivory carvings including small oliphants (see 742) and janiform figures. Such figures are not, however, restricted to southern Cameroon; the trumpet (see 630) has more of a Grasslands feel about it, and the same may be said of this piece. Krieger (1965: Ill, plates 254-5) illustrates a trumpet from the Bangwa with a similar double figure, which came to Berlin in 1907. Comparable amulets from the Tikar-Bekom are shown by Gebauer (1979: 326-9).
This may also be an amulet, as there is a perforation at neck level between the two figures; it may equally well be the end of a fly-whisk handle which has been trimmed. The figures are male and female; the former holds a horn-shaped object to his chest, possibly a cup; the latter clasps her hands beneath her breasts.
Margaret Carey, 1997
Entry taken from Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection, Vol. 2: Pacific, African and Native North American Art, edited by Steven Hooper (Yale University Press, 1997) p. 165.
Purchased by Robert and Lisa Sainsbury from K. J. Hewett in 1972.
Accessioned into the Sainsbury Centre, University of East Anglia circa 1989.