Deaccessioned February 27, 2014

Memorial screen (duen fubara)

Ijaw Kalabari
late 19th century

Object Place: Nigeria


93.98 cm (37 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Wood, pigments, fiber


Africa and Oceania



Early contact with Europeans introduced carpentry skills that may have been appropriated by the Ijaw Kalabari in large memorial screens called duein fubara (foreheads of the dead). Commissioned by great trading families, these consist of marionette-like wood figures with separately attached arms and legs, lashed to a backing of bamboo slats (missing in this example). The colorful assemblages memorialize a seated family elder flanked by smaller attendants and emblems of prestige. Attendants here in this screen, which was collected in Buguma, wear European top hats with the feather emblem of the eskine society; the central figure has an Alagba headdress with pegs. The Pokia family of sculptors is credited with a number of late nineteenth-century screens, eleven of which were collected by Percy Talbot in 1916, ten of which are now in the British Museum.


September, 1990, said to have been collected in Buguma, Nigeria, and acquired by Davis Gallery, New Orleans; October, 1990, sold by Davis Gallery to William and Bertha Teel, Marblehead, MA; 1996, partial gift of William and Bertha Teel to the MFA (accession date: December 18, 1996); 2014, remaining interest bequeathed by William Teel to the MFA; February 26, 2014, deaccessioned by the MFA for transfer to the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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Credit Line

Gift of William E. and Bertha L. Teel