Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Ancestor Figure (Ekpu)

18th–19th century
Nigeria, Calabar Province
Ibibio peoples, Oron group
H. 27 1/2 in. (69.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Acquisitions Benefit 2006, and Ross Family Fund and Daniel and Marian Malcolm Gifts, 2007
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 352
Until the 1930s, the creation of such a work was an essential part of the process whereby an esteemed Oron elder was elevated to ancestral status. The figures served as the locus whereby the distinguished individuals portrayed were invoked to play an essential role in assuring the well-being of their offspring. Features depicted that allude to their exalted social standing are prominent headdresses, beards, and stomachs. The eldest member of a clan was the guardian and keeper of a shrine in which as many as fourteen generations of their forebearers were so honored.
Jacques Kerchache, Paris, by the 1970s–(d.)2001; Collection of Jacques Kerchache, Paris, 2001–2007; [Ana and Antonio Casanovas, Arte Y Ritual, Madrid, 2007, as agent]

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