Mid 19th Century Trophy Calabash



The calabash was a disturbing part of the Bamum culture, it?s a gourd adorned with the jaws of slain enemies that was paraded in celebration of the victorious return of conquering heroes. The Kingdom of Bamum (1394?1884) was a pre-colonial Central African state in what is now northwest Cameroon. During the dry season, the Banum Kings regularly conducted wars and military campaigns to increase wealth and resources. Upon the warriors return the celebration included tribal dances where the victorious forces would drink palm wine from this unique trophy. It was made of a gourd, cloth, human jaw bones with teeth, vines and plant fibers. The Bamum people placed a large amount of emphasis on ancestral spirits. It was said that these spirits were embodied in the skulls of the deceased, and the oldest sons of each family possessed the skulls of their ancestors. However, the Bamum affinity for skulls didn?t only extend to their own tribe. For a culture dedicated to preserving the skulls of their ancestors for religious reasons, their ferocity as a tribe was more than evident by the desecration of the skulls of their enemies.
While they?ve long since dispensed with decorating gourds with the jaws of slain enemies, there are still around 215,000 Bamum in Cameroon today, with most having broken from the traditional religion in favour of Islam or Christianity. These cultural shifts make such calabashes artifacts of amazing significance that will never be reproduced or replaced, and they are truly a treasure for any collector.
Condition: An incredible museum quality piece
16.75 in. x 10.875 in.
Weight: 4 kilograms

Out of stock