Large Woven Shield Cameroon
The woven shield is one of the notable artistic objects produced by the people of the grasslands area of Cameroon, particularly by the Bamileke, Bamun, and Bamenda Tikar groups. These shields are intricately woven and serve both practical and symbolic purposes within the cultural context.
The shields are typically made using a combination of materials such as wood, rattan, and fiber. The frame of the shield is constructed from wood, providing a sturdy base, while the woven elements are created using rattan or other flexible plant fibers. The fibers are skillfully woven into intricate patterns, often incorporating geometric designs, symbols, and sometimes figurative motifs.
The shields are primarily used as defensive weapons in warfare, offering protection to warriors during battles. However, they also hold significant symbolic value within the social and cultural framework of the grasslands communities. They are associated with the authority and prestige of the regional Fons (main chiefs) and are used in ceremonial contexts as emblems of power and status.
The designs and patterns on the shields can vary, reflecting the artistic expressions of the specific groups that create them. Geometric patterns, such as checkerboards, triangles, or zigzags, are commonly seen. These patterns may convey symbolic meanings or represent elements of the natural world, such as rivers or mountains. Figurative motifs, such as human or animal forms, might also be incorporated, emphasizing ancestral connections or mythical narratives.
Due to the scattered nature of the grasslands communities and the lack of a unified artistic style, there is a wide variety of shield designs across the region. Each group and sometimes even individual craftsmen may have their unique techniques and aesthetic preferences, leading to a diverse range of woven shield styles.
In recent times, the production of woven shields has faced challenges due to changing social and economic conditions. However, efforts are being made to preserve and promote these traditional art forms, as they are an essential part of the cultural heritage of the grasslands area of Cameroon.
Approximate Age: second half 20th Century