Nsibidi Signs on Masks

Nsibidi signs are also found on some animal skin-covered masks, such as this one. Can you see the nsibidi sign on the forehead above the mask's right eye?

These masks were used by associations of warriors and hunters as substitutes for the heads of defeated enemies. The Ekoi believed that some of the power of the slain enemy was transferred to the warrior owning and dancing the mask.

This mask was probably made in the late 19th century. With the end of warfare between the Efik and Ekoi groups under the 20th-century British colonial occupation, skin-covered heads began to be used in a variety of other dance contexts beyond hunting and warfare.


© Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University,
Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester and Dallas Museum of Art
For more information please contact odyssey@emory.edu.
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