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Creator Nationality: African; West African; Nigerian; Ejagham
Creator Active Place: Cross River
Creator Name-CRT: Ejagham peoples
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1800
Creation End Date: 1999
Creation Date: 19th-20th century
Object Type: Sculpture
Materials and Techniques: Wood, leather, metal, bone, fiber, paint
Dimensions: H. 10 31/32 in. (27.8 cm)
AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.206.266
Credit Line: The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979
In the southeastern forest region of Nigeria, village groupings are small and politically decentralized. Headdresses covered with leather are made by many different peoples living in villages along the Cross River and in Cameroon. These exceptional headdresses are owned by associations whose members are men or women of the same generation; membership is often further restricted to those who have performed certain feats or are proficient in particular skills. In the past, for example, there were associations of hunters and of men who had killed leopards.
The headdresses, which bear the same name as the society that owns them, are worn during funerals and initiations. Some are startlingly naturalistic and may be portraits of known individuals; others are highly stylized. There are three overall types: helmet masks that cover the wearer's head entirely, masks that cover only the face, and headdresses that, like this one, are attached to basketry caps worn on top of the head.
To make a headdress, the artist carves the form from a single piece of wood and covers it with soft, untanned antelope skin that has been soaked in water for several days. He stretches, binds, and pegs the skin into place until it dries and stiffens. Eyes, scarifications, and hair are often carved separately and pegged into the finished piece. Before it is worn, the headdress is painted or colored, then adorned with porcupine quills, feathers, or feathered rods stuck into holes at the top.
AMICA ID: MMA_.1979.206.266
AMICA Library Year: 2000
Media Metadata Rights:
Copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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