This mask (called mma ji) 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
performed during the annual masked festival called okumkpa or
okonkwo, and probably also for agricultural festivities and
This mask is exceptional both because of its vigorous execution and
its geometrical daring. The upper part would be the evocation of the
« yam knife ». 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.
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