220402 - Old Tribal used African mask from Eket - Nigeria.
Tribal used African Old mask from Eket, Nigeria.
Hand carved from a single piece of wood, with color pigments.
Diameter: 34 cm.
This mask was collected between 1980 and 1990 and ended up in my private collection in 1997.
The Eket or Ekid are the people who live in this Local Government Area. They are a sub-group of the Ibibio people. Eket is also the name of the main sub-language that they speak, a Benue–Congo language. Both languages are similar, but sufficiently distinct to give away the precise district the speaker originates from.
The Eket have a form of caste or class society, with the "Amama" being the highest caste, and these are notable for undertaking traditional potlatch-like feasts in which the poorer people are fed en masse. In addition to the Amama, groups of "Ekpenim Isong" (Ekpo Ndem Isong in Ibibio) class rule individual villages and towns, and their will is enforced by the "Ikan" class (traditional masked police) to which entry is by merit rather than birth.
Common surnames include Odungide, Akanimo, Assam, Inwang, Essiet, Udoito, Edoho, Edohoeket, Etukudo, Ukpong, Abia, Ekpo, Ikott, Abasekong, Asamudo, Nyoho, Ekong, Ekanim, Udofa, Edem, Inyang, Itauma, Udosen, Usoro, Etti, Etteh (actually meaning father), Udofia, Ukoetuk, Uku, Abia and Nsien. Just like the remainder of West Africa, the family name normally is an indicator of which specific region one is from.