Ekpe Helmet Mask

Ekpe

Nigeria

The Ekpe is a graded men's society that serves as the effective government in the otherwise leaderless villages throughout the area. Ejagham is the most comprehensive name for the people in this area, but individuals prefer to identify themselves with their village or clan. Ekpe does not unify the region; rather, each village has its own cult house and its own set of masks. This Janus (two faced) helmet mask is usually worn by members of the highest ranking grade of Ekpe.

The dark, painted face is male, and the light face with typical painted facial patterns is female. The theme of duality conveys spiritual completeness and possibly the ability to see into the past and the future. The mask is not recognized as representing a particular spirit, but is recognized as a symbol of the corporate group Ekpe and of the powers of its leaders. The mask depicts the division of labour: the woven basket on top represents the female while the horns are representative of male warrior.

Wood , Woven fibers , Antelope skin

Height : 22″ (55.9cm)