This mask was in use in the most important male secret society of the
Afikpo, and took part in its initiation rituals. Spiritual
incarnation of the god egebele, it danced during the annual
masked festival called okumkpa or okonkwo, and probably
also during funeral rites.
This mask is exceptional both because of its vigorous execution and
its geometrical daring. The upper part should be the evocation of the
« yam knife », and the perpendicular lower part of a
weapon. The patina demonstrates clearly its great age and its ritual
use. The great majority of these masks were destroyed at the end of
the 19th century and at the
beginning of the 20th century,
during colonial conflicts and the conversion of the few remaining
villages to Islam.
19th century or earlier.
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