Chamba Abstract Figure Nigeria
Little is known regarding Chamba sculptures, but it has been reported that figures such as this are used in cult activity, known as Jup, ones dominated by men, or, in the case of women, Jem. Jem practices are directed to the life issues of disease, death, and misfortune, which they can cause and cure. Jup activity cuts across all aspects of Chamba life and family relationships; it is music, dance, performance, as it defines ethical and moral codes and is the means to adjust and control the seen and unseen. Jup names animals, rituals, things of the bush, the dead and the living. In fact Jup is an integral part of Chamba life and in order to name the function a figure it is necessary to know the context. Sculpted figures as well as any number of other objects were known as Jup and were publicly or secretively displayed during ceremonies or rituals.
The Chamba, whose number today is estimated to be 20,000, settled in northern Nigeria, on the southern bank of the Benue River. They are divided into small kingdoms each headed by a king assisted by a council of elders whose powers are regulated by male and female secret societies within which art has a prominent role as a symbol of transformation during funerals, initiation and to control the forces of untamed nature.