Founded on the ancestor cult, the Ekpo society is especially known for masks which are danced at the planting and harvesting of yams, the nutritional staple of the region. Many masks and artifacts were destroyed by missionaries in the late 19th century and during the last civil war. Still, modified beliefs continue to this day among the Eket, especially societies for the education of adolescents. Large plank masks were danced at yam festivals as well as at funeral ceremonies for members of the society. They represent ancestors who have returned to the land of the living in order to sanctify the cycle of life and death. The markings on the cheeks represents scarification according to the pattern of a particular village. The kaolin is considered semi-sacred substance which attracts the spirits of the ancestors. These particular masks have disappeared and are no longer danced in any Eket village. This example is stunning in person and despite including a custom base would look fantastic displayed on the wall, much like a painting, albeit three-dimensional. Purchase includes copy of original bill of sale from Charles Davis III (photograph included).
Ex. Collection Linda Paul, US, Ex. Charles Davis III Gallery, New Orleans LA, Nov. 1999