|Nkrigor Nselle, South-Eastern Nigeria|
Research to discover the location from which this distinctive monolith came has just been completed. It was photographed by Philip Allison at the Nkrigor Nselle site in Ogoja Province in 1961 and was removed from the site by 1972.
The Akwanshi has clearly defined features; very striking is the T shape formed by the nose and hairline which curves around to form the cheeks. On either side of the nose, the eyes are partially circled by the nodule eye rims with eyebrows above and scarification to the cheeks and from the corners of the eyes. The protruding mouth is unusual in showing the teeth and the outer line of the small beard curves neatly downwards from the lower edge of the cheek scarification lines. There are three rings on the top of the head. The whole is an extremely well designed sculpture obviously executed by a master of his craft.
The existence of this ancient art form was unknown in Europe until 1905 when the British Official, Charles Partridge, first wrote of the ancient, basalt, figurative, monoliths of the Cross River State in his book, Cross River Natives. The first image of a monolith was printed in 1915 in Negerplastik by Carl Einstein; it had been acquired in 1909 for the Museum fur Volkerkunde in Berlin. Finally, in 1961, Philip Allison was employed by Bernard Fagg, Director of Antiquities at the National Museum in Lagos to survey and photograph the Cross River Stones. Allison established the extent of these staggering monoliths; he discovered more than 300 spread over 29 sites. They were either isolated or if in groups were arranged in circles, usually on the outskirts of villages, where they were used for a number of community activities.
Allison reports that the stones had been found at the meeting of tributaries of the Cross River where they were polished by the currents before being lifted out of the water and sculpted.
According to Professor Ekpo Eyo, the first Director General of the Nigerian Commission for Museums and Monuments and author of a number of books, the sculptures represent ancestors or a legendary or historic figure or could be the emblem of a secret society.
|Location of Origin: Africa|
|Dimensions: Height 57 cm (22.5 in)|
|Primary Classification: Ancient Art, Antiquities : Other|
|Secondary Classification: African Artwork, Ethnographic & Tribal Arts : African Art|
|Bibliography and Illustrated:Introduction aux Arts d'Afrique Noire by M.L. Bastin, pub. 1984. Illustrated p.45 No.27Cross River Natives by Charles Partridge, pub.1905Cross River State Monoliths by Philip Allison, pub. 1967 Department of Antiquities, Federal Republic of Nigeria|
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