By Christopher D. Roy
University of Iowa

Nigeria; Ibibio peoples


Wood, pigment

H. 29.2 cm (11 1/2")

University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art, The Stanley Collection, X1986.189

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.