Ekoi Ejagham Janus Head Crest Nigeria
A carved human head with impressive Janus faces surmounted. The base is decorated with reeds and the head is covered with leather. This is a typical head crest from the Ejagham or Ekoi Cross River area of Cameroon and Nigeria.
A number of different groups living within close proximity to the Cross River share language, political and religious structures which influences their arts. Though generally ruled by a local elder Cross River societies depend to a great extent upon a number of men's secret societies to regulate the community and to instruct and initiate men into various levels of their organization. The Ejagham identified as the Ekoi in the past have a men's secret society called Ngbe, whose members are known for wearing large skin covered masks worn over costumes covering the body. Each Ngbe chapter would have a lodge within which a range of ritual equipment was kept including masks. Ngbe membership was originally identified with a warrior's society on the Cameroon side of the Cross River region, however today Ngbe members are engaged in social control and political activities. Ngbe members use ritual equipment to initiate new members and celebrates their lives during funerals. Crest masks such as this one were worn on the top of the head attached to a basketry cap. This is a classic well-used mask that would add a bold presence to a collection. Some headcrest masks from the Boki people, neighbors of the Ejagham, are very similar to those of the Ejagham.