Collection

Eket Face Mask

Eket Face Mask

Ibibio, Nigeria.
Mid 20th Century,
Wood, Pigment, 11¼" x 7".

The history of the Ibibio is long and varied. They are believed to have lived in the Cross River area of modern day Nigeria for many centuries and are documented in various colonial records of the 19th century. With a modern population of multiple combined ancestries, including the Annang, Eket, Ibeno, Oron, and Efek peoples, they now stand at over ten million and speak a variety of dialects that, until recently, were all classified as Ibibio.

Due to its overly large eyes and extreme countenance, this mask expresses several characteristics of various Ibibio styles. The Eket masks are known for an interest in overly round, concentric circles and sharp attention to precise detail. It’s nocturnal features suggest this mask may be one of many associated with the performance of the abubom, a festival connected with the celebration of the earth and the moon, and its overall connection to the Great Mother and a society's prosperity and lineage. It may also have been a mask used in the cultural tradition of ancestral worship or the Ogbom festival.

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