Collections: Arts of Africa: Emblem of the Leopard Spirit Society (Nkpa)

  • 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: Double Pegasus, one of four, from the Coney Island High Pressure Pumping Station, 2301 Neptune Avenue, Brooklyn

These sleek modernist versions of Pegasus, the flying horse of classical mythology, once flanked the entrances to the New York City Fire Ser...

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: Double Pegasus, one of four, from the Coney Island High Pressure Pumping Station, 2301 Neptune Avenue, Brooklyn

    These sleek modernist versions of Pegasus, the flying horse of classical mythology, once flanked the entrances to the New York City Fire Ser...


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


    1998.123_PS2.jpg 1998.123_transp4450.jpg CUR.1998.123_print_bw.jpg

    Emblem of the Leopard Spirit Society (Nkpa)

    An nkpa is an emblem associated with a particular level of the Ngbe, a major men’s society that regulates social behavior among the Ejagham and Banyang people of the Cross Rivers area.

    A drum membrane (missing here) occupies the center of an nkpa; drums symbolize the society’s legislative authority. The emblem is constructed of a palm-leaf mat with attached items such as a ceremonial broom, used to sweep away hostile “medicine,” loops of cordage that are signs barring entry to the sacred house, and a batonlike staff. Emblems are adorned with the skulls and horns of animals consumed at the feast held at the society’s founding.

    • Culture: Ejagham
    • Medium: Wood, animal skulls, plant fiber, iron, pigment
    • Place Made: Southwest Province, Cameroon
    • Dates: 19th century
    • Dimensions: 37 x 36 x 9 in. (94.0 x 91.4 x 22.9 cm)  (show scale)
    • Collections:Arts of Africa
    • Museum Location: This item is on view in North Gallery
    • Exhibitions:
    • Accession Number: 1998.123
    • Credit Line: Frank L. Babbott Fund
    • Rights Statement: Creative Commons-BY
    • Caption: Ejagham. Emblem of the Leopard Spirit Society (Nkpa), 19th century. Wood, animal skulls, plant fiber, iron, pigment, 37 x 36 x 9 in. (94.0 x 91.4 x 22.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Frank L. Babbott Fund, 1998.123. Creative Commons-BY
    • Image: overall, 1998.123_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2007
    • Catalogue Description: The basic structure of this dense and compact emblem, or nkpa, consists of a palm leaf mat woven in the form of a grid, roughly a square, with a fringe of palm fiber, perpendicular to the edges and projecting about 9 in. Onto grid, various fiber, skeletal, and manufactured objects are attached. These include 14 skulls: most appear to be from apes or monkeys; two appear to be from birds of prey; one large one at top of center appears to be from an ox, cow, or horse. Below large skull is tube of wood with hide adhered to it; around it is nestlike ring of root(?) fibers. The smallest skull, which is fragmentary, is attached to two large claws that are wrapped with fiber borders. Also attached are 3 wood clubs: one is long, the height of the proper right side; one is short in proper left corner; one, which may be a tool, is short and at bottom central edge. Inserted at lower proper left corner is folded section of heavily plied and twisted cord. There is an iron knife with painted blade and carved wood handle. Two long bundles of reeds are tied to form an X; two thorned branches are tied to form an X. Condition: An inherently fragile piece that should not be considered for an outward loan. The center was occupied by a membrane drum, the head of which is missing. Paint on iron blade is flaking and powdery. Object always needs to be stored flat in a customized box. For display, a vitrined case with light levels not to exceed 10 footcandles is recommended to protect organic components. Previous owner attached piece to black painted board with cleat for hanging.
    • Record Completeness: Best (85%)
    advanced 110,671 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.