240139 - Antique Ekoi janiform Ngbe statue covered with hide - Nigeria.


Antique African Ekoi / Ejagham janiform statue with hide - Nigeria.Hand carved from wood and covered with Antelope hide.Height: 55 cm.
This statue was collected between 1940 and 1950 and ended up in my private collection in 1992
A beautiful Janus statue known as Ngbe worn by members of Leopard Society among the Ejagham (also known as Ekoi) of Nigeria.This is a very rare statue, which is not often offered at auction.
This statue has coiled braids that imitate the hair extensions, with wooden pins representing the hair embedded in the skull. It is said that the hairstyle represents that of the young women called "Moninkim" at the end of their traditional seclusion, during which the dance "Nkim" was performed. taught them.The eyes surrounded by white are kaolin.The statue and face are wrapped in antelope skins. The statues were rubbed with palm oil before use, giving them a lacquered appearance. Then placed in daylight to soften the leather and give it a satisfying shine.From "Calibar" these African statues were produced by the Ekoi and then transported to the Cross River region of southeastern NigeriaA number of different groups living in close proximity to the Cross River share language, political and religious structures that influence their art. Although societies in Cross River are generally ruled by a local elder, they rely largely on a number of secret societies of men to regulate the community and to instruct and initiate men at various levels of their organization. The Ejagham who were historically identified as the Ekoi have a secret male society called Ngbe, whose members are known for wearing large skin-covered masks worn over costumes that cover the body.
Each Ngbe chief would have a lodge in which a range of ritual equipment was kept, including these staqtues and masks. Ngbe membership was originally identified with a warrior association on the Cameroonian side of the Cross River region, but today Ngbe members engage in social control and political activities. Ngbe members use ritual equipment to initiate new members and celebrate their lives at funerals. Comb masks like this were worn on top of the head, attached to a basketry.See similar head crests in Marcilene K. Wittmer and William Arnett. Three Rivers of Nigeria . Art of the Lower Niger, Cross and Benue. From the Collection of William and Robert Arnett. The high Museum of Art. Atlanta. Georgia. 1978, Fig. 184, p. 78

This statue are from a France collector and is collected in 1946.

Newton, Douglas. Masterpieces of Primitive Art: The Nelson A. Rockefeller Collection. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978, p. 101Nicklin, Keith, "Nigerian Skin-Covered Masks," African Arts, Vol. 7, No. 3, 1974, pp 8-15