Guinea Coast, Nigeria, Ejagham, early 20th century
wood, antelope skin, bone, basketry, cane, metal, Overall: 67.30 x 43.20 x 43.20 cm (26 7/16 x 17 x 17 inches). Andrew R. and Martha Holden Jennings Fund 1990.23
Headdresses or crest masks made of antelope skin stretched over a carved head are a distinctive art form of the Cross River region in southeastern Nigeria and western Cameroon. This female evocation of ideal feminine beauty was most probably worn by an Ejagham woman in the context of a female society called Ekpa, which was responsible for the education of girls in preparation for marriage.
CMA 1991: "Notable Acquisitions," June 7-September 15, 1991, Bulletin 78 (June 1991), p. 113, repr.