Mambila Tadep figure
Cameroon
Rand African Art - home page
Mambila Tadep figure, Cameroon
Wood, metal, pigment (black, red, white)
26" tall

*THIS OBJECT IS NO LONGER IN MY COLLECTION
"Such figures are commonly described as ancestor figures, a description which is challenged. The gesture of the left hand or both
hands to chin in Mambila sculpture is characteristic of tadep figures connected with a healing association called Suaga. The ritual
paraphernalia were kept in granary-like storehouses adorned with painted screens (baltu).  Two types of carved anthropomorphic
figure were displayed in front of the storehouse: kike made from raffia palm pith, and tadep carved from wood. Both types were often
made as a male-female pair and usually painted with black, red and white pigments. The style of the former is generally more
abstracted than that of the latter. Larger tadep were also kept inside the storehouses. Although the Suaga complex remains central to
the religious system of the Mambila, most figures and masks have been removed owing to their popularity among Western art
collectors."
Source: Keith Nicklin - Africa The Art of a Continent
Storehouse for Mambila Suaga Society property, Northern Cameroon. Photograph 1936 (A History of Art in Africa)

The storehouse above has a ledge where the Tadep and Kike figures were placed. Larger Tadep figures were often placed inside the storehouses. The
Tadep and Kike figures protected and proclaimed the sacred powers of the objects in the storehouses. Each family clan or homestead had a similar
storehouse like the one pictured above.