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Wum Tribal Basket

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Wum 1
5.00 LBS
Calculated at checkout

Product Description

The Wum are part of a cultural collective located in the Western grasslands of Cameroon. In the 17th century Fulani traders/invaders forced the Wum to scatter and  settle further into the southern region where they continued to farm and cultivate various crops and livestock.

The Wum, like all of the peoples who make up the Cameroon Grasslands culture area, politically are aligned to the Fon. The Wum though, reserve their highest allegiance to their lineage ancestors. They believe that ancestral spirits are embodied in the skulls of the deceased ancestors. By practice the precious skulls are in the possession of the eldest living male in each lineage, and all members of an extended family recognize the same skulls as belonging to their group. When a family decides to relocate, a dwelling, which must be first purified by a diviner, is built to house the skulls in the new location. Not all skulls are preserved though. It is then thought that these spirits have nowhere to reside and may as a result cause trouble for the family. To compensate when a man's skull is not preserved, a family member must undergo a ceremony that requires pouring libations into the ground. Earth gathered from the site of that offering then comes to represent the skull of the deceased. Respect is also paid to female skulls, although details about such practices are largely unrecorded.
The Wum are expert weavers as evidenced by the above selection. Pedestal baskets have a lower extension which lifts and keeps the bowl possession off the ground. It's unclear if this particular basket was used ceremoniously or not but due to the nature of it's design and the quality of craftsmanship it had an important use. Baskets have been known to hold everything from grains to fruits to yes even skulls and bones. 
The Wum basket on display made of cane, natural fibers and rope was created during the 20th century. It has some loose and frayed edges due to aging. All in all it is a highly decorative piece and an excellent example of how African utilitarian pieces are valued as works of art!
Please click photo for enlargement!
Dimensions: 10 inches wide x 18 inches tall x 10 inches deep

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