Ibibio Headcrest Mask Nigeria
This mask is from the Ibibio people who live in the area between the Niger Delta and the Cross River. In this region a number of culturally and linguistically related peoples share mask styles often drawing upon one another for imagery and perhaps even carvers who have some degree of mobility. The Ibibio live in a largely dense tropical forested area in small village groupings where they exercise social control through the activities of male secret society known as Ekpo. This secret society in based upon a cult of ancestors who advise, direct, and guide the Ibibio in all facets of their lives. Such masks danced by the exclusively male Ekpo Society are known as Idiok, Ifiok is said to be an ugly mask that represents the dead, who are seen as wandering spirits that are potentially evil and have dark powers. Masks with deformed features often play upon the idea of an anti-aesthetic as they depict physical deformities or the effects of disease characterizing evil or malevolent spirits. It is a demanding exercise to identify all Ibibio masks as to their forms and functions for they are often subject to many sculptural influences and a number of their cult, ritual activities and masks are drawn from their larger neighbors the Igbo or the smaller groups including the Anang and the Oron Ibibio.
Approximate Age: Mid 20th Century