Palace Decoration

The Cameroon Grasslands kingdom palaces were richly decorated. Among the most important decorations were the intricate carvings framing the palace entrance (called doorjambs) and the roof supports (called houseposts). These parts of the building were carved with figures of the king, local history, and religion.

The ruler was frequently represented on doorjambs and houseposts. He is often shown in several poses to illustrate his various identities -- as a musician, as a priest, as a judge, and as a warrior. In the door frame on the left, a Babanki king holds a leopard by the tail, a sign of the king's physical power.

The decoration on the Batcham housepost on the right illustrates the role of the servants at the palace. The housepost supports the palace roof as the male and female servants carved on them support the king's rule.

The number of doors in a building and their decoration can tell us how important the homeowner is. For example:

  • Royal palaces usually have four entrances. The entrances are decorated with human and animal scenes.
  • Other high-ranking dignitaries have homes with three doors, decorated with geometric patterns.
  • Low-ranking court members and commoners, who reside on the outer perimeter of the cities, have only one or two undecorated doors.

© Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University,
Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester and Dallas Museum of Art
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