Eket Female Figure Nigeria
The Eket are a large sub-group of the Ibibio and number around 1,000,000. They live to the west of the Ibibio near the Cross River. Like most cultures from this area, they have an extensive pantheon of cults and rituals, with the "Ekpo" society the dominant arbiter of social and ritual life. Economically, they are exporters of palm oil. They are primarily farmers, unlike their neighbors the Ekoi who depend on fishing. The importance of crops, particularly yams, has led to festivals which celebrate the harvest. Headdresses such as this are used during festivals to celebrate the spirits of fecundity and fertility of humans, animals and plants which presence is insured by these headdresses. These headdresses are also documented as being used in the annual ceremonies of the Ogbom cult. Little is known about this cult.
See close similar pieces in Warren M. Robbins & Nancy Ingram Nooter, 2004, AFRICAN ART IN AMERICAN COLLECTION, figs 723-726, p. 277