Tribal art > African mask > Ejagham mask
Ejagham Ekoi Crest mask (N° 20963)
This piece is accompanied by a certificate from Mr. Pierre Vérité dating from 1985 (photo). From a basketry base rises a head, an ideal of feminine beauty for the Ejagham. The wooden structure is covered with animal skin, usually antelope. The extravagant headdress composed of four volute outgrowths would represent the hair extensions of young girls at the end of their period of initiatory reclusion.
The dancer's costume was made up of a large lattice of raffia cords and, more recently, of cotton fabric. The masks were coated with palm oil before use, and placed in daylight so that the leather would soften and take on a satisfactory sheen.
Leopard societies, such as the male Kpe, Ngbe society among the Aro, used this crest design for initiation ceremonies or funerals of association members, but also during agricultural rituals.
The headdress would represent that of young women at the end of their traditional seclusions during which the Nkim dance was taught to them. Other dance groups, such as the Ikem, still wore these masks in the 2000s. (Arts of Nigeria revisited, N. Barley)(Arts of Nigeria, 5Continents, A.Lebas)
("Africa", Ed. Prestel, T. Phillips)
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