SPECIAL ADVISORY: In accordance with Yale University’s revised COVID-19 protocols, the Yale University Art Gallery will close to the public beginning Friday, October 16, 2020. Learn More

African Art
PrevNext1 of 3
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
PrevNext2 of 3
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
PrevNext3 of 3
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
Artist, possibly by: Etim Abassi Ekpenyong

Headdress Representing a Young Woman

late 19th–early 20th century

Wood, antelope skin, rattan, metal, and pigment

23 × 22 × 21 in. (58.42 × 55.88 × 53.34 cm)
Charles B. Benenson, B.A. 1933, Collection
This mask consists of a carved, wooden head covered with fresh antelope skin that was wrapped around it and left to dry until tight. It was worn on top of the head of a performer who was covered entirely with a cloth costume. The mask was likely danced by members of the Ikem association, a men’s convivial song-and-dance group. Skin-covered masks were performed at New Yam festivals, at the installation rites of a titleholder, or at funerals of Ikem members.
Cross River, Guinea Coast, Nigeria
19th–20th century

Judith Small Nash, New York, to May 9, 1973; Charles B. Benenson Collection, Greenwich, Conn, 1973–2004; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.


Warren M. Robbins and Nancy Ingram Nooter, African Art in American Collections (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989), 288, fig. 746.

Frederick John Lamp, “Charles Benenson and His Legacy of African Art to Yale,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2004): 26, ill.

“Acquisitions, July 1, 2005–June 30, 2006,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2006): 222.

Frederick John Lamp, “Hot Space, Cool Space: The Reinstallation of the African Art Collection in the Louis Kahn Building at Yale University,” African Arts 40 (Summer 2007): 46–47, fig. 19.

Frederick John Lamp, Amanda Maples, and Laura M. Smalligan, Accumulating Histories: African Art from the Charles B. Benenson Collection at the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2012), front and back cover,79, 115, fig. 23.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.