By Christopher D. Roy
University of Iowa
The masks were intended to provide anonymity to the wearer, so that the family of a criminal who had been punished could not seek vengeance, but perhaps more important to communicate the idea that authority was vested in a corporate body rather than in an individual. The Ibibio Ekpo society mask shown here displays features that are fearful to the Ibibio--dark coloring, large coarse eyes, mouth and nose, and patterns of scars at the temples. The mask was intended to inspire fear, awe and obedience in those who saw it.