Date: 19th c.
Geography: Cross River region, Nigeria.
Materials: Human skull, antelope skin, basketry, lead, hair.
Quai Branly Museum, Paris, France.
Masks of this kind are usually covered in antelope skin, but rare examples covered in human skin have led researchers to hypothesize that warriors originally wore the heads of killed enemies. The masks are thus believed to symbolize the appropriation of enemies’ power.
Ekoi people, also known as Ejagham, are a Bantoid ethnic group in the extreme south of Nigeria and extending eastward into the southwest region of Cameroon. They speak the Ekoi language, the main Ekoid language. Other Ekoid languages are spoken by related groups, including the Etung, some groups in Ikom (such as Ofutop, Akparabong and Nde), some groups in Ogoja (Ishibori and Bansarra), Ufia and Yakö. The Ekoi have lived closely with the nearby Efik, Annang, Ibibio and Igbo people of southeastern Nigeria. The Ekoi are best known for their Ekpe headdresses and the Nsibidi text. They traditionally use Nsibidi ideograms, and are the group that originally created them