Collections: Arts of Africa: Skin-covered Headdress with Raffia Beard

  • 1st Floor
    Arts of Africa, Steinberg Family Sculpture Garden
  • 2nd Floor
    Arts of Asia and the Islamic World
  • 3rd Floor
    Egyptian Art, European Paintings
  • 4th Floor
    Contemporary Art, Decorative Arts, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art
  • 5th Floor
    Luce Center for American Art

On View: Statuette of King Necho

This sculpture probably belonged to a group showing the king presenting an offering to a god. The inscription indicates that the royal figur...

Hiroshige's One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

Hiroshige's 118 woodblock landscape and genre scenes of mid-nineteenth-century Tokyo, is one of the greatest achievements of Japanese art.

    On View: Statuette of a Nude Girl

    To ancient Egyptians, this miniature representation of a nude young girl would have had erotic appeal. Her heavy wig alludes to the Egyptian...


    Want to add this object to a set? Please join the Posse, or log in.


    74.66.2_bw.jpg CUR.74.66.2_print_bw.jpg

    Skin-covered Headdress with Raffia Beard

    Headdresses covered with leather are found only in the Cross River area of Cameroon. Some are fiercely stylized while others are startlingly realistic and may in fact have been portraits of individuals.

    The artist carves the form from a single piece of wood and then covers it with untanned antelope skin that has been soaked for several days, scraped, and smoothed. He stitches, pegs, and ties the skin into place and allows it to dry. Eyes, ears, scarification patterns, and hair are carved and covered separately, then pegged onto the finished piece. Finally, the piece is painted prior to performance.

    • Culture: Ejagham
    • Medium: Wood, antelope skin, fiber, pigment, metal
    • Geographical Locations:
    • Dates: late 19th or early 20th century
    • Dimensions: 13 1/2 x 8 in. (34.3 x 20.3 cm) base diam: 7 1/4 in. (18.5 cm)  (show scale)
    • Collections:Arts of Africa
    • Museum Location: This item is not on view
    • Accession Number: 74.66.2
    • Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John A. Friede
    • Rights Statement: Creative Commons-BY
    • Caption: Ejagham. Skin-covered Headdress with Raffia Beard, late 19th or early 20th century. Wood, antelope skin, fiber, pigment, metal, 13 1/2 x 8 in. (34.3 x 20.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John A. Friede, 74.66.2. Creative Commons-BY
    • Image: overall, 74.66.2_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    • Catalogue Description: Wooden headdress in form of human head and covered with hide. There are notches down the center of forehead and on either side of face. Mouth is open and teeth are indicated. Around chin and extending and extending from ear to earis a short raffia beard. A braid hangs from the center of the beard. Eyes are inset with nail studs for pupils. Four braids are attached by wooden pegs to back of head. At base of neck is a rattan collar with one handle on either side. CONDITION: Skin covering is split: around base of skull extending to corner of mouth, also at back of neck, on left side and right side of head, on right temple, and on top of forehead. Raffia beard is flaking. Deep check inside left side of mouth.
    • Record Completeness: Best (83%)
    advanced 110,591 records currently online.

    Separate each tag with a space: painting portrait.

    Or join words together in one tag by using double quotes: "Brooklyn Museum."

    Please review the comment guidelines before posting.

    Before you comment...

    We get a lot of comments, so before you post yours, check to see if your issue is addressed by one of the questions below. Click on a question to see our answer:

    Why are some objects not on view?

    The Museum’s permanent collections are very large and only a fraction of these can be on exhibition at any given time. Sometimes works are lent to other museums for special exhibitions; sometimes they are in the conservation laboratory for study or maintenance. Certain types of objects, such as watercolors, textiles, and photographs, are sensitive to light and begin to fade if they are exposed for too long, so their exhibition time is limited. Finally, as large as the Museum is, there is not enough room to display everything in the collections. In order to present our best works, collections are rotated periodically.

    How do I find out how much an object in the Brooklyn Museum collections is worth?

    The Museum does not disclose the monetary values of objects in its collections.

    Can you tell me the value of an artwork that I own?

    The Museum does not provide monetary appraisals. To determine the value of an object or to find an appraiser, you may contact the Art Dealers Association of America or the American Society of Appraisers.

    I own a similar object. Can you tell me more about it?

    Please submit via e-mail a photograph of the object you own and as much information about it as you can, and we will provide any additional information we are able to find. Please note that research in our files is a lengthy process, and you may not have a response for some time.

    How would I go about lending or gifting a work to the Museum or seeing if the Museum is interested in purchasing a work that I own?

    Please submit via e-mail a photograph of the object you would like us to consider, as well as all of the information you have about it, and your offer will be forwarded to the appropriate curator. The Brooklyn Museum collections are very rich, and we have many works that are not currently on exhibition; because of this, and because storage space is limited, we are very selective about adding works. However, the collection has become what it is today through the generosity of the public, and we continue to be grateful for this generosity, which can still lead to exciting new acquisitions.

    How can I get a reproduction of a work in your collection?

    Please see the Museum’s information on Image Services.

    How can I show my work to someone at the Museum or be considered for an exhibition?

    Please see the Museum’s Artist Submission Guidelines.

    Why do many objects not have photographs and/or complete descriptions?

    The Museum's collection is very large, and we are constantly in the process of adding photographs and descriptions to works that do not currently have them, or replacing photographs that have deteriorated beyond use and descriptions that are minimal or out of date. This is a long and expensive process that takes time.

    How can I find a conservator or get advice on how to treat my artwork?

    Please visit the American Institute for Conservation, which has a feature on how to find a conservator.

    I have a comment or question which is not included in this list.

    Join the posse or log in to work with our collections. Your tags, comments and favorites will display with your attribution.