Lot: 225

Anthropomorphic face mask "idiok ekpo"

Nigeria, Anang Ibibio

Provenance Size Hammer price
Serge Trullu, Nimes, France
Alfred Weisenegger, Winklarn, Austria
Austrian Private Collection
H: 12 inch 10500 EUR

wood, kaolin, base

The "ekpo" society represents the most important Ibibio society. "Ekpo" members danced light coloured "mfon" and dark colored "idiok" masks.

The light colored, attractive masks embody benign ancestors who led good, productive, and moral lives. Most Ibibio masks, however, are dark colored, embodying ugly discontented spirits whose behaviour is meant to be a negative example for the living. Some of them, like this one, are disfigured by diseases or deformities as punishment for their transgressions.

In pre-colonial times, some of these dark large-scale masks had wider functions and were used to exercise social control.

The present mask type with a twisted nose on an asymmetrical face was identified as "adiaha unak". Other masks of this type illustrated in Herremann, 1999, p. 12, see also AHDRC 0091986 and 0091985. "Adiaha unak" was assistant to "akpan ekpo", who was considered the head of the "ekpo" society.

These leading "ekpo" maskers were major government officials on behalf of the "Ekpo" society, presiding over such problems as boundary disputes or other fights between lineages, and the collecting of taxes or fines for breaches of acceptable behavior.

Herreman, Frank, To cure and protect, New York 1999, p. 12
Cole, Herbert M., Invention and Tradition, Munich, London, New York 2012, p. 181, plate 91 Exhibited:

Wuppertal, Germany: "Sculptures and Masks from Nigeria", Tony Cragg Foundation, 2012

ADHRC: 0157906