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Ejagham (Ekoi) Head Crest Leopard Society Nigeria Africa

Product #: 109662
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Title Ejagham (Ekoi) Head Crest Leopard Society Nigeria Africa
Type of Object headcrest, Mask
Country of Origin Nigeria, Cameroon
People Ejagham (Ekoi)
Materials Wood, pigment , reeds, leather
Approximate Age Mid 20th century
Dimensions Height: 16.5 Inches
Width: 8.5 Inches
Depth: 8.5 Inches
Overall Condition Good to Fair. Most of our pieces have spent decades on at least two continents, and have been treasured by several owners.   Small splits, scrapes and cracks are a normal part of their patina attesting to their age and extensive use.  We examine each piece carefully when we receive it and report any damage we find in our listings.  Please look carefully at the pictures which may also reveal condition and damage.
Damage/Repair chips, indigenous repair, large hole, scrapes, and cracks; see pictures for details.

Provenance: From the collection of Howard Gelb, St. Paul, MN collector of African Art, who was also a businessman, lawyer, and philanthropist. Mr. Gelb died in 2015, at the age of 96.

Additional Information: A carved human head with an impressive  face surmounted by twisted braids . The base is decorated with reeds  and the head is covered with leather. This is a typical head crest from the Ejagham or Ekoi Cross River area of Cameroon and Nigeria. This superb head crest mask  would add a bold presence to any collection. 

A number of different groups living within close proximity to the Cross River share language, political and religious structures which influences their arts. Though generally ruled by a local elder Cross River societies depend to a great extent upon a number of men’s secret societies to regulate the community and to instruct and initiate men into various levels of their organization. The Ejagham identified as the Ekoi in the past have a men’s secret society called Ngbe, whose members are known for wearing large skin covered masks worn over costumes covering the body. Each Ngbe chapter would have a lodge within which a range of ritual equipment was kept including masks. Ngbe membership was originally identified with a warrior’s society on the Cameroon side of the Cross River region, however today Ngbe members are engaged in social control and political activities. Ngbe members use ritual equipment to initiate new members and celebrates their lives during funerals. Crest masks such as this one were worn on the top of the head attached to a basketry cap. This is a classic well-used mask that would add a bold presence to a collection. Some headcrest masks from the Boki people, neighbors of the Ejagham, are very similar to those of the Ejagham.