Bamileke Chief's Hat withClay Beads Cameroon
The Grasslands is dominated today by three large cultures: the Bamun, Bamileke, and the Bamenda Tikar. Each village is led by a primary chief, or "Fon." All people in the area are expected to pay allegiance to this leader. Each Fon is selected by his predecessor, based on the dominant lineage within that community. The Fon is served by a council of elders, who advise him on all important decisions and who also play an important role in the selection of the next Fon. Most chiefs serve for a lifetime, abdicating the throne only when near death. Complex societies also help to structure the community, and the Fon oversees these as well. Most large sculpture from this area is produced for the Fon, not only to honor him but for his personal use and display.