Lot: 33

Anthropomorphic headdress "oglinye"

Nigeria, Idoma

Provenance Size Hammer price
Ludwig Bretschneider, Munich, Germany
Munich Private Collection
H: 10.6 inch 500 EUR

wood, pigments, metal, fabric, rest.

The use of real skulls in mask dances is said to have developed from war dances with the skulls of killed enemies.

In 1905, Charles Partridge spoke of the use of human skulls as masks by the "ekpo" society at Nko in the Cross River. The skull was worn atop the head with false hair and a knitted suit - precisely the way that "oglinye" heads are worn today. This may explain why the "oglinye" mask today is a carved head rather than a face mask.

Due to the ban by the British colonial administration and the end of the internal wars in south-east Nigeria, the real skulls seem to have been replaced by these wooden heads (according to Kasfir, Arts of the Benue River Valley, 2011, p. 75).


Berns, Marla C. et. al., Arts of the Benue River Valley, Los Angeles 2011, p. 75