Documented by Sidney Littlefield Kasfir, 1977
Super-8 film; 48 seconds
Crest masks (Oglinye) in the form of human heads carved fully in the round were made for warriors’ masquerades. The tradition derives from the Cross River area, where human trophy skulls were originally worn atop the head. The British banned Oglinye in 1917, but after 1940 they tried, largely unsuccessfully, to use the masquerade groups to assist with local efforts at social control and to help collect taxes and enforce orders. While the masquerade was associated with male warrior associations, the faces on these two crest masks appear intriguingly female. They may reference the roles of women as arbiters of male social status in the community.
This video is part of the exhibition "Central Nigeria Unmasked: Arts of the Benue River Valley" on view at the Fowler Museum at UCLA February 12–July 24, 2011.
For more information on the exhibition visit: fowler.ucla.edu/exhibitions/benue