Bell made of wood and metal representing a Biloko, an aggressive spirit of the rain forests of northern Congo and southern Cameroon. It measures 23 cm high and up to 17 cm wide. It represents a dwarfish creature with a very large mouth, two arms and a pointed 'hat', reminiscent of garden gnomes and a sort of tail-like appendage.
The following was recounted by the pygmy hunter from whom the object was purchased, as told by the Cameroonian trader. The pygmy, an Aka from the Likouala region, was considered to be a great wizard within his ethnic group.
The pygmy had gone hunting in the forest, as was his
habit. But ever since the timber poachers had started blithely destroying
these areas of West Africa, game had become increasingly
scarce. The hunter had been forced to travel to the remotest parts of
the forest. The woods where he ended up had a very bad reputation, and
many people from neighbouring tribes had disappeared for good in there.
But he had no choice: he could go into the woods or die of hunger.
Despite the many grigris, n'kissis and amulets protecting
him, the pygmy was still uncomfortable.
The pygmy gathered up the pig and the strange little bell shown here. The bell was traded to the Cameroonian trader for a nice matabiche, before finally ending up in the Surnateum.
*Iroko (Chlorophora excelsa): Large tree whose yellowish-red wood has commercial applications. Also called African oak.
Note: In the French spoken in the former French colonies the word biloko means a small object.