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Image / King Ndjoya's favourite wife, showing her skin tattoo

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King Ndjoya's favourite wife, showing her skin tattoo
Lieblingsfrau des Königs Ndjoya mit Tätowierung
Wuhrmann, Anna (Ms)
Date Created and/or Issued
Publication Information
University of Southern California. Libraries
Contributing Institution
University of Southern California Digital Library
International Mission Photography Archive, ca.1860-ca.1960
Rights Information
All the images (photographic and non-photographic) made available in this collection are the property of the Basel Mission and are managed by mission 21. mission 21 / Basel Mission claim copyright on the images in their possession and require those publishing any of the images--both individuals and organisations--to pay a user's/copyright fee.
Contact the Archives of mission21 at address mentioned or at
mission21, Missionsstrasse 21, CH-4003 Basel, Switzerland, tel. (+41 61 260 22 42), fax (+4161 260 22 68)
Note: "Kg. Ndj. Lieblingsfrau m. Tätowierung, Brustbild v. Vorne. König Njoya hat 500 Frauen [Satz unterstrichen]. Natürlich sind unter diesen solche, die er andern vorzieht, um irgend einer Tugend, eines äusseren Vorzugs oder um hohen Standes willen! Auch die Frau auf unserem Bilde gehört zu den Lieblingen der schwarzen Majestät. Sie hat auch etwas an sich, was sofort gewinnt, und ihre Losung ist sicher, ohne, dass sie es weiss: 'Immer fröhlich!' Auffallend ist bei diesem Bilde die kunstvolle Frisur der Frau! Es ist dies ein Kopfputz, dessen Herstellung manche Stunde Arbeit erfordert, der aber gewöhnlich nur alle 2-3 Monate erneuert wird. Im Antlitz und auf der Brust hat die Frau viele Tätowierungen. Diese tief eingeschnittenen Figuren sind der beliebteste und 'haltbarste' Schmuck unserer Frauen und Mädchen, und man muss sich oft wundern, wie kaltblütig unsere weibliche Jugend diese gewiss sehr schmerzhafte Prozedur an sich vollziehen lässt. In den Ohrläppchen trägt unsere Königsfrau etwa fingerdicke, 5-7 cm lange Pflöcke, die kunstvoll mit weissen oder bunten Glasperlen umwunden sind. Perlen sind überhaupt der Schmuck der Königsfrauen und Töchter, gewöhnliche Sterbliche tragen an Stelle der Perlenpfröpfe kleine Holzstückchen, Korke oder gar Nägel, Schrauben und Patronenhülsen." (Wuhrmann, A., 1917. Beschreibung zu den Lichtbildern aus Bamum. E-30-0,6).
Note translation: "K[in]g Ndj[oya s] favourite wife, with tattoos on her skin, head and shoulders, seen from the front. King Njoya has 500 wives. Naturally he prefers some of them to others on the basis of their gifts, their appearance or their high parentage. The woman in this picture belongs to the favourites of His Black Majesty. There is something about her one finds immediately attractive, and without her being aware of it we can say that her slogan is Be happy! . You are immediately struck, on looking at this picture, by the skillful hair-arrangement. It takes hours to prepare, but is only renewed every 2-3 months. On her face and on her breast the woman has a lot of tattooing. These deeply cut figures are the favourite and most lasting jewellery which our women and girls possess, and one often admires how cold-bloodedly our female youth allows this undoubtedly painful procedure to be carried through on their bodies. Our King s wife wears 5-7 cm long plugs in her ears skilfully wound with white or coloured glass beads. Beads are characterstic costume jewellery for our King s wives and King s daughters. Ordinary women wear, instead of plugs decorated with glass beads, plugs of wood like cork, or even nails, screws and spent cartridges. (A. Wuhrmann, 1917, Commentaries to Slides from Bamum, E-30-0,6. K 344). -
b/w positive, paper print, gelatin-silver
11.1 x 8.7 cm.
impa-m28752 [Legacy record ID]
Njoya* (Mrs)
King's wife
Portrait f
Time Period
E-30.30.070 [Reference number]
QE-30.006.0158 [Same image reference number]
Cameroon. Grasslands. Bamum. 1. Brothers and sons of the King. 2. Sisters and daughters of the King. 3. Ngutane, Njoya's oldest daughter, 4. Wives of the King
Historical Photographs from the Basel Mission
International Mission Photography Archive, ca.1860-ca.1960
impa-m15099; impa-m17363
mission 21 / Basel Mission

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