Shiva dances upon the back of a dwarf figure crouching on his stomach. This pose is not as typical as some of his other dancing postures. He dances on one leg extended straight down with the other straight up almost making a straight line. His torso and head are thrown back. He only has two hands, one holding a drum at his knee and the other a khatvanga, a club made of a bone with a skull at the top. He wears jewelry including a belt with pendent loops and tassels, necklaces including a heavy long necklace, armlets and bracelets and an elaborate crown organized with a number of peaks. On his forehead we find the third eye, another identifier of the god Shiva. A dense circular background consisting of three inner rows of round elements, the middle one may be composed of skulls, and an outer row of flame-like elements surrounds the whole figure, animating the image into a whirl of the dance. The whole sits on a circular base, plain with a flanged bottom section decorated with a lotus petal motif.
Shiva is often depicted in a dancing form, usually interpreted as his dance of creation and destruction. The most common form has him in a very different pose, but other poses such as this one are sometimes found. This particular image suggests the destructive nature of the dance quite clearly. He dances on the dwarf of forgetfulness and he is holding a khatvanga, a club made of a bone with a skull at the top, a reference to both his destructive nature and the fact that he is dancing in a creation ground where we find such unburned items. On his forehead we find the third eye, another identifier of the god Shiva.
Pipe made in three parts: wood-carved stem, inner metal pipe for drawing smoke, and metal, possibly bronze bowl. Wood-carved, openwork stem is comprised of interlocking lizards; spiral whorls cover the cast metal bowl. bands of cowrie shells encircle the bottom and “neck” of the bowl, while its lip is topped with the classic Grassfields motif of a prestige cap.
Throughout the Grassfields region of western Cameroon, men and women smoked pipes at social gatherings, to rest while working in the fields, and in sessions of the royal court. The kind of pipe that one smoked--its design, iconography, and the materials from which it was made--reflected one’s status in society and an ability to appreciate beautiful things. Pipes drew from a rich repertoire of sculptural forms and symbols that characterized the visual arts of the region. “Prestige pipes” completed the attire of chiefs and noblemen, as their elaborate forms and iconographic motifs spoke of royalty and wealth.