About the object
Boats are the means of transport for the coastal peoples of Cameroon. In colonial times, the boat was important for the transportation of people and goods. Since the arrival of the Europeans, the Duala people had been acting as intermediaries. With the use of their boats, they exchanged goods in the hinterland and brought them to the European ships at sea. This boat is a model of these vessels from the German colonial period. The object was ordered as an item of tourist art by the collector and brought back to Freiburg.
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Boats are a key means of transport for the coastal peoples of Cameroon, whose main activity is fishing. During the colonial period, this vessel would have been extremely important for the transportation of colonial officials, explorers, missionaries and goods. Since the arrival of the Europeans, the Duala have been acting as intermediaries. Via the use of their boats, they exchanged goods in the hinterland and brought them to the Europeans' ships at sea. This boat model from Captain Heldt's collection is an artistic reproduction of the boats of the Duala from the German colonial period. It could represent the ritual canoe with which the Duala used to fetch good tidings from their ancestors in the depths of the sea during their ritual feast of Ngondo (umbilical cord). The different individuals in this model have all been initiated and are wearing the traditional black caps of the Duala. The painting with geometric shapes and figures clearly shows that this boat model was made for special events: for example for the transportation of the chieftain or for traditional celebrations and rituals. The musician at the prow and the drummer at the stern guarantee the good mood of the chieftain in the middle. The parasol, which provides shade for the chieftain, is an insignia of his power. Author: Albert Gouaffo, Translation: Timothy Connell