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Crest Mask (Ungulali)

Worn on top of the head, this crest mask is associated with agricultural festivals, Christmas plays, and funerals. Its local name, ungulali, means “flute, ” a reference to the flute music that announces the entrance of the dancer wearing the crest.

Based on a similar multi-faced crest collected in 1958 from the family of an Idoma carver by Africanist art historian Roy Sieber, this crest and others like it have generally been identified as Idoma. However, recent research by Sidney Littlefield Kasfir, an expert on Idoma art, suggests instead that such crests either originated in the Cross River or were carved by a Cross River sculptor who had moved north and settled in the Idoma area.

Idoma or Cross River peoples, Nigeria
Crest Mask (Ungulali)
20th century
Wood, pigment, nails
H. 12 ½ in. (31.8 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 73.55.1