June 17, 2015
Large brass statues, such as these leopards, were owned by royalty in the Bamun (also spelled Bamum) kingdom, located in the Grasslands of Cameroon. Brass leopards enhanced the prestige of the king, known as the Fon, as it was his privilege to use images of leopards to mark his position. Depictions of leopards also appear in beaded art, thrones, stools, and other royal objects. Wealth was also indicated by the possession of live leopards kept in the king’s compound. Bamun society is very hierarchical and is organized around the Fon, making the markers of his superiority very prominent. Today, these leopards mark the entrance to our summer exhibit, MOA’s Cabinet of Curiosities.