Lot: 153

92nd Tribal Art Auction

Rare figurally carved ritual board, 19th century

Nigeria, Ibibio / Eket

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
Old English Collection
Kevin Conru, London, Great Britain
B: 34.8 inch;
H: 9.1 inch
5000 EUR
plus 21 % commission, VAT, transport and insurance

wood, pigments, old inscription "West African Fetish...(unreadable)" The exact function of this object is unknown. It could be a shrine object. However, the handle carved on the back is an indication that it was also carried around, so it may have been used in ceremonial dances or processions. In the Ibibio social system, the most important governmental functions were in the hands of men's graded societies such as the mighty "ekpo", the "idiong" and the "ekong" society. These societies had their own meeting houses in most villages and were sponsors for most of the ritual objects. The skull representation in the center could be an indication of the "ekong" society, which were successful headhunters in pre-colonial times. The two flanking masks are reminiscent of the type of "idiok" masks belonging to the "ekpo" society. A very early specimen, reproduced by Leuzinger (1972), p. 213 (AHDRC 0092072) shows the same large and deep-seated eye sockets.


Leuzinger, Elsy, Die Kunst von Schwarz-Afrika, Recklinghausen 1972, p. 213
Conru primitive art, "African Art", Brussels/ Ringmore, Belgium / United Kingdom, 2002, ill. 3