Head crest in elephant form (ogbodo enyi)

20th century
Artist Unidentified

Object Place: Nigeria


52.1 cm (20 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Wood and pigment

Not On View


Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art



This type of mask called ogbodo enyi (spirit elephant) refers to the strength and endurance of this majestic animal. Elephants feature prominently in the thought of many African peoples and are often associated with political and spiritual power. In northeastern Igbo country, male members of associations that grouped men according to age wore elephant headpieces such as this one horizontally on top of their heads. They danced in fast-paced solo performances during annual festivals. The masquerade, which celebrated the contribution of different groups to the well being of the community, is primarily an entertainment today.


June, 1979, collected in Doula, Cameroon and acquired by Charles Davis, the Gallery of Primitive Man, New Orleans; July 16, 1979, sold by the Gallery of Primitive Man to William and Bertha Teel, Marblehead, MA; 1992, partial gift of William and Bertha Teel to the MFA; 2014, acquired fully with the bequest of William Teel to the MFA. (Accession Dates: June 30, 1992 and February 26, 2014)

Credit Line

Gift of William E. and Bertha L. Teel