Ogoni Amanikpo Marionette
- Tribe: Ogoni
- Origin: Nigeria
- Approx Age: Mid - Later 20th Century
- Materials: Wood
- Dimensions cm: 68 tall
- Ref. Number: 1003
An enchanting Ogoni Amanikpo Marionette used in the Ogoni Kingdom by one of the many peoples indigenous to southeast Nigeria. This stunning marionette, made of wood, at one time would have been fully articulated. Due to the passage of time both the arms and legs have been fixed in place. With slight loss to the right foot and the left foot is missing a small portion, decorated with a white substance possibly kaolin and the addition of a piece of cloth around its neck the attraction of the still articulated jaw gives this wonderful piece a life like quality and feeling of fun.
Provenance: Ex Seward Kennedy Collection
Amanikpo is the most powerful and dreaded cultural group in Ogoni. Ogoni is a major tribe, near Port-Harcourt, in Rivers State, Nigeria. Membership is either core or regular. Unlike core , regular members only enjoy freedom of passage where the group is performing; a privilege not open to the public. Amanikpo and its members perform in absolute secrecy and under the cover of darkness as they are not meant to be seen by anyone other than the members. They can, however, be seen only when on stage where their masquerades are displayed in daylights for public entertainment, as seen in this video. The masquerades are carved humans capable of talking, singing and dancing via local technology known to only core members.
The true origins of the Ogoni people are not very well known, research has it that they migrated into the area from across the Imo River while other research says that the Ogoni people came in boats from Ghana and settled in the southern part of the area. Believers in this theory point to the name by which most of the Ogoni peoples call themselves (Khana) as a pointer to the Ghana origins of the Ogoni people.
Socially, the Ogoni is endowed with a large variety of cultural practices. These include masks and masquerades, human figure representation of the ancestors, as maybe used in Ka-elu performances and the puppet shows which are performed exclusively by the Amanikpo Society. The Amanikpo society is the most powerful and dreaded cultural group in Ogoni. Majority of these cultural performances in this relatively small region are extraordinarily varied. Most if not all, Ogoni villages have their own festivals, some of long standing, others introduced within living memory. The festivals are mainly held to commemorate the founding of the villages, to pay allegiance to particular ancestral land or water spirits, to mark the planting and harvesting seasons, for the fertility deity, to recognize the taking of titles, to restore peace in troubled community, to maintain cohesion within social groupings and for general entertainment. theory point to the name by which most of the Ogoni peoples call themselves (Khana) as a pointer to the Ghana origins of the Ogoni people.
Of all their known festivals and masquerades, the mask style for which the Ogoni are probably most renowned is the one called Karikpo. The Marikpo mask represents animals and is worn on the front of the face by men and boys. It is used for vigorous acrobatic play, performed originally during planting and harvesting seasons for fertility, new yam festivals, and burial ceremonies of members and recently for Christmas and New year celebrations, including reception for a distinguished guest or an illustrious son. The masquerade
Performance is believed, especially in Khana to have originated in a certain community known as Bien-Gwara. Although there may not be substantial proof to this, but it is believed the community’s interaction with the Ibibios of Akwa Ibom State, where Ekpo mask has its provenance, may have influenced its adaptation and modification hence its name Kari (Carved) Kpo (Ekpo). Membership into the Karikpo Society does not require an elaborate ritual or initiation, but an intending member is made to provide items like a bottle of gin, palm wine, a plate of oiled fish.